The Henry and Stark County Health Department notes that many residents have questions about the practice of using handkerchiefs, and wearing fabric face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Fact is we live in a rural, agrarian area and many farmers and other residents use and swear by their handkerchiefs. In truth, coughing and sneezing has long been a public health concern. Today, we know that handkerchiefs aren’t always the best way to handle coughing and sneezing!

To help stop the spread of germs:

    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    Put your used tissue in a waste basket.
    If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
    If you use a handkerchief. They should not be shared and should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.  A washing machine using hot water and detergent and drying on the hottest setting should suffice.

RaeAnn Tucker, Director of Health Promotion with the Henry and Stark County Health Deaprtment states, “The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.” 

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. 

The Health Department offers some quick facts for the use and care of fabric face masks: 

Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly?  How regularly?Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. 

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?  A washing machine and clothes dryer set to the hottest settings, should suffice in properly washing a cloth face covering. 

How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?  Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their cloth face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

 For more local information on the local response to the Covid-19 pandemic “Like” us on Facebook or “Follow” us on Twitter or visit the Health Department’s website at