Chicago cloth mask drive gets underway ahead of new statewide face covering requirements

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In an effort to help those who might not otherwise have access to face coverings, which will soon be required in the state, a citywide cloth mask drive kicked off Saturday.

The state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are already recommending people wear a cloth mask in public when social distancing can't be maintained. And starting Friday in Illinois, it will be mandatory.

Gov. JB Pritzker plans to include that requirement in his modified stay-at-home order, saying all residents will need a face-covering or mask in public when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance.

Officials say masks can help prevent respiratory droplets from spreading when infected people sneeze, cough or talk. Particularly, the masks can help prevent spread from people who are sick and do not realize it.

The city of Chicago wants to make sure the most vulnerable residents have access to masks, which the city says are people on the South and West sides, based on data.

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Starting Saturday, and running through May 16, homemade cloth masks can be donated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays at several churches and aldermanic offices.

One of those donation sites is Commonwealth Community Church at 140 W. 81st St. on the South Side.

Commonwealth's first lady, Cheryl Samuels, is eager for her congregation to pitch in. Like other drop-off sites, it's taking donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

"This community here is where the numbers are really bad with the virus, so this is a good effort for the church," Samuels said.

The governor is making clear these face coverings are vital.

"People in restaurants have been able to tell people that are walking barefoot in their restaurant that they're not allowed to be there; so, it's perfectly acceptable to tell people, 'you're not allowed in if you're not wearing a face mask,'" Pritzker said. "Remember, a face covering is protecting other people. So this person is being, not just disrespectful to everybody in the grocery store, but also potentially infecting other people."

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The city says the donated masks will go to groups including homeless shelters, community health clinics, long-term care facilities, addiction treatment providers and essential public workers.

When making a mask, the city says three layers of fabric should be used. The inner and outer layers should be tightly-woven cotton. The city is also reminding residents to wash their hands before and frequently during the mask-making process.

Visit chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/citywide-cloth-mask-drive.html for more information about where to drop off donated masks.
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