Photo: Viktor Hanacek

Amid concerns that those who have contracted the coronavirus but are asymptomatic or presymptomatic, thereby unaware that they are infected but fully capable of transmitting the virus to others, has lead to a new health alert.

The state is trying to prevent community spread of the disease through speaking, coughing, or sneezing, and asking Alaskans to wear a cloth face mask when around others outside of their household.

It is requested that medical face masks are donated for use by first responders as there is a nationwide shortage, and that instead cloth masks are used when visiting places like pharmacies and grocery stores.

A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand, or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels, according to state officials.

Masks need to cover both the nose and mouth; should be carefully removed by grasping the ear loops, ties, or bands, and immediately discarded or placed in a designated container for laundering upon returning home.

Wash face coverings in hot, soapy water between uses, and wash your hands immediately after removing the face covering and before touching anything else.

Be careful to avoid developing a false sense of security through the use of face coverings. Their primary role is to reduce the release of respiratory droplets into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, according to state officials.

Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing and washing hands and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions.

For more information, follow this link to the health alert.