Fresno County Health Official Says Cloth Masks 'About 10%-15% Efficient' - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Fresno County Health Official Says Cloth Masks 'About 10%-15% Efficient'



Photo of a young woman wearing a homemade cloth mask
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The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

“So, they probably are about 10% to 15% efficient at best, and sometimes even lower than that. So that’s why what we were recommending with cloth masks, they’re definitely not appropriate for medical use.” — Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer
Now, the Fresno County Health Department wants you to know how efficient — or inefficient —those masks are.

It Depends on the Mask Type

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer, gave his thoughts on mask protection during a teleconference with reporters on Friday.
“I think that the medical community has really moved towards a little bit different stance, in terms of what we think about masking,” said Vohra.

(GV Wire/Alexis DeSha)

Respirator Masks

“So the best kind of mask that someone can use is called a respirator, and the most common ones that are available in our clinical facilities are called the N95 respirators, and that basically means that it filters out 95% of those viral particles,” Vohra explained.

Surgical Masks

Vohra went on to explain, “Then we have surgical masks, surgical masks are not as efficient at filtering out viral particles, but they’re still quite good. they probably filter out somewhere between 40% and 50% of viral particles, if they’re used properly if they fit properly. It’s really best used if both the provider, and the patient are both wearing masks because then you can add 40 plus 40 for example, and get 80% protection. Again, not 100%, but that’s still pretty good.”

Cloth Masks

“Then we’re left with the last kind of mask which is kind of like the cloth mask. Now, that actually includes a very broad variety of different masks and … I’ve done a pretty deep dive into all of the different fabrics I’m sure you have as well. And it turns out, cloth masks really, no matter how you slice it, are not that efficient. So, they probably are about 10% to 15% efficient at best, and sometimes even lower than that. So that’s why we were recommending with cloth masks, they’re definitely not appropriate for medical use,” said Vohra.

CDC on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings

The CDC says 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 mask without assistance.
The CDC also has guidance when it comes to some of the most common questions surrounding the use of 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 should suffice in properly washing a 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 face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

Local Business Helps to Make Cloth Masks

Kiki’s Quilt Shack in Northwest Fresno posted on Facebook that they’re using their 18,000-square-foot facility to manufacture face masks for local hospitals spanning six local counties.
HandsOn Central California is delivering kits to volunteers 55 years old and older.
Kiki’s is giving out free mask-making kits as they have them available to volunteers who are interested in taking them home to make them. Each kit makes 12 masks. All mask kits were quickly picked up last week, Kiki’s is hoping to get more in the coming days.
All interested volunteers must register by emailing Central Valley Community Foundation at
Kiki’s also says all volunteers who would like to help make masks at Kiki’s Quilt Shack will be provided with a machine and a workspace that conforms to safe social distancing standards set by the state of California and the CDC.
If you have questions, call Kiki’s Quilt Shack, 559 412-8233, or email
Kiki’s Quilt Shack is on the southwest corner of Palm and Bullard avenues in Fresno.

Fresno Police Department Needs Help Sewing

Fresno Police Department volunteers are diligently working on sewing fabric face masks for their personnel to wear.
The Department used social media in the past couple of days to try finding materials to make masks. They were having a difficult time finding elastic for the masks. The department now has the materials available, but now needs volunteers to sew the masks. Contact Kate Woertman at or call 559 621-6530
The city of Fresno also announced on Friday that protective face masks will be given to as many police and firefighters as possible.