When Indianapolis EMS says you should wear a face mask

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention responds to the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, there is now a surging demand for face masks.

Right now, the immediate risk of the virus for the general American public is considered low, but health officials say everyone can do their part to help us respond to this public health threat.

Hardware stores in Indianapolis are running low on face masks. Hedlund's Hardware on Broad Ripple Avenue does not have any more.

Michael Hedlund, a manager, said they had about 200 masks a few weeks ago. Now, the shelves are empty.

"About every hour on the hour someone comes in asking for a mask," he said. "They are grabbing 10-15 at a time."

Indianapolis EMS explains you probably do not need to rush to the store to buy a mask.

"Currently, the CDC recommends you wear a face mask only if you have signs of respiratory infection so fever cough the sniffles," said Dr. Mark Liao, medical director for IEMS.

Liao said the masks help reduce the spread of diseases.

"If you are just going about your daily life or if you are going to the supermarket, there is no need to have to wear a face mask," he said.

If you do need to wear a mask, make sure the colored surface is facing out. You also want to place the mask over your nose and chin.

Liao said you can find face masks at a pharmacy or even a doctor's office.

"Really, they are designed to prevent other people from getting sick," he said.

Officials are also placing a big emphasis on hand washing.

As far as face masks at hardware stores, Liao said those have a more a N-95 or P-100 filter which is not necessary for most people.

He said that level of protection is only required for people in a health care setting.

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