Face Masks do work quite well to stop the spread of Covid-19. They are most effective if the wearer themselves are infected to protect others from droplets from coughing and sneezing. But they also do convey some protection against droplets for healthy people. See e.g. here. The US Center for Disease Control is allegedly about to update their guidelines to recommend face masks to the general public. Face Masks, as well as hand hygiene, also go a long way in explaining why Japan, despite their (frankly embarassingly) slow reaction to the current crisis, still has comparably low number of cases and fatalities. In an ideal world with no supply considerations, we should all be wearing face masks outside of the home.
Unfortunately, there are supply considerations. Face masks are hard to get and there is an argument to be made to leave them to professional healthcare workers and those most vulnerable.
The solution is to make face masks yourself at home. While not as effective as N95 or FFP-3 masks, tests have shown homemade self masks do be generally quite close in effectiveness to surgical face masks. In most situations, a homemade mask will give you adequate protection when combined with thorough hand hygiene and physical distancing. And it is definitely MUCH BETTER THAN NOTHING. Here are two face mask tutorials:
Tutorial 1: Simple Face Masks From Kitchen Paper And Tissues
You don’t need more than general kitchen utensils like tissue, scissors, paper tape, a punch hole, rubber bands. A link with more detailed explanations to the video is here.
Tutorial 2: More Elaborate Cloth Mask With Exchangeable Filters
The more elaborate alternative is to sew your own face mask with room for exchangeable filters. As filter, you can use kitchen roll and tissue paper. This website gives detailed information about how to sew the masks, what to use as filter and how to properly wear them.
If you know how to sew and/or you would like to get involved in producing these on a larger scale, please contact me.