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Bandanas, Balaclavas, Bra Straps: How People Are Answering Call To Cover Their Faces

With health officials now urging all Americans to cover their faces in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and a growing list of places requiring it, millions of people are getting creative to try and do their part — pulling out sewing kits, ripping up T-shirts and repurposing everything from vacuum filters to old bras. Seriously.

Face coverings don't need to be works of immaculate engineering, health officials say. Save the surgical masks and coveted N95 masks for the health care workers dealing with the pandemic.

For the rest of us, a simple piece of cloth covering mouth and nose will go a long way. Many people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic and a cloth mask, worn properly, can help keep them from unknowingly spreading the disease.

But many NPR listeners and followers on Twitter and Facebook are not simple people. Some have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect themselves and the people around them. Others are channeling their inner artisan.

Many more are supporting their local businesses - or helping people "mask up" through charity work.

Others are making a fashion statement.

Or bringing Westworld to life.

For some, an old T-shirt or scarf does the trick.

Others are putting in a bit more effort.

For one, years of being a pack rat finally paid off.

Simple or not, health experts agree that wearing a face mask really can help curb the spreadof the coronavirus. So pull out that musty sweater or tear up a bed sheet. At the least, you'll be ready for next Halloween.

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John Ruwitch is a correspondent with NPR's international desk. He covers Chinese affairs.
Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.