Get used to masks: Dr. Amy Acton said Ohioans might need to wear masks for a year to stop coronavirus

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ohioans could need to wear a mask for the next year to keep the coronavirus at bay as businesses reopen, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said.

In a state briefing on Monday, Acton predicted a “culture change,” with masks an instrumental part of fighting coronavirus. The remark was part of a greater discussion on how the state will emerge from its strict stay-at-home order, which runs until May 1.

There are now 6,975 confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio and 274 deaths.

Professionals initially did not recommend members of the public wear masks, especially because protective personal equipment for healthcare workers is limited. Tone shifted as the virus continued to spread and people started to create their own, homemade cloth masks.

Ohio officially recommended residents wear cloth masks in public -- not medical masks or N95 respirators -- on April 4, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the recommendation.

Acton said that social distancing measures stack on top of each other, creating less of a chance for the virus to spread with each layer.

“We are going to be looking at a year of using these in new ways,” she said. “Keep making them.”

A simple cloth mask involves attaching layers of fabric to elastic to secure the mask around the wearer’s ears. Making a homemade mask doesn’t require a sewing machine, and if you don’t have elastic to secure the ears, there are other options.

University Hospitals is still collecting cloth masks, for health care workers and visitors.

“Don your mask," said Acton. “Don your cape."

Read more about sewing masks below:

Can’t find elastic to make a mask? Here are some other options

12 simple steps to make a fabric mask to protect from the coronavirus: See the video

Making a coronavirus mask without a sewing machine is fairly easy (video)

How to help sew masks for hospital in coronavirus crisis

Hudson volunteers make 750 masks in a week for Canton hospital during coronavirus crisis