Sky Lakes leaders are asking the community to follow the medical center’s lead by wearing non-medical masks when in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve encouraged all of our staff who don’t have clinical responsibilities to wear a non-medical mask that covers their nose and mouth so we don’t inadvertently spread the virus to someone else,” said Sky Lakes President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Stewart. “And we strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask whenever they’re interacting with anyone not living under the same roof.”

Dozens of area crafters have donated fabric masks they’ve made to help support healthcare workers. This helps staff protect each other while preserving the supply of medical-grade masks for the healthcare workers who will be on the front lines of patient care.  Sky Lakes employees who have patient-care responsibilities wear the appropriate personal protection equipment – PPE – in clinical settings.

“By wearing a homemade mask, you can limit spreading the virus by ensuring that the droplets that carry it can’t escape and potentially infect others,” said Grant Niskanen, MD, a Klamath Falls family medicine physician and a Sky Lakes vice president. “Homemade masks also serve as a reminder to people to not touch their faces.”

Wearing a mask does not replace physical distancing, Stewart noted. “People still need to adhere to physical distancing guidelines – at least 6 feet – and wash their hands frequently, as well as wear masks in public.”

Bandanas, scarves, or other types of cloth face masks could be used as face coverings as well, he added. Fold the material two or three times before wrapping it around your mouth and nose to offer more protection. Said Stewart: “When everyone wears a mask, it becomes accepted, perhaps even expected.”

Using fabric and sewing supplies to create your own cloth mask at home might be an option for people who want to cover their face in public. Instructions are online at