Vt. health officials want you to embrace cloth mask habit

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Whether it's stepping outside, going grocery shopping, or other daily activities, health officials say they want all Vermonters to get in the habit of wearing a cloth face mask or covering in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. But due to increased demand, it might be hard to find one right away.

"We've almost sold out of our pre-sale initial batch of masks," said Margaret Groberg, the owner of Notion Fabric and Craft in Montpelier.

The business found itself with a niche purpose during the pandemic and says they've sold enough materials to make about 15,000 masks. They've also just started selling masks on their website. "I'm definitely bracing myself and hoping that we can ramp up," Groberg said.

It's one of many businesses across Vermont that is now selling cloth masks. The state is compiling a running list of local retailers selling them and offers guidelines to keep yours up to proper standards.

Experts say putting a mask on the right way starts with clean hands. The recommend putting it on before leaving the house and keep it on until you get home. They also say not to touch or adjust your mask when wearing it to prevent spreading germs. Avoid touching your face when taking off the mask and then wash your hands immediately. They suggest having more than one on hand so you can rotate them for washing. And after you do wash your mask, don't wear it again until it's completely dry.

"There are a lot of companies making facial coverings right here in the state," said Gov. Phil Scott Friday.

The state expects all workers to be wearing a mask and following the recommended safety guidelines. Businesses should also designate a health and safety officer who ensures their co-workers are keeping themselves and others safe. "We want to make sure the worksites are safe and that all the protections are put into place and that the employees have the training necessary to understand why this is important," Scott said.

Despite advising everyone to wear masks, the state has no plan to penalize businesses that don't follow the rules.