Face Coverings

Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and self-isolation when sick.

Best Practices

When using face coverings:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before putting on your mask.
  • Make sure it covers your mouth and nose. It should fit snugly, but comfortably.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth while wearing your mask.
  • When removing, avoid touching your face.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after.
  • Remember to wash your mask. Reusable face coverings can go straight in the washing machine or can be washed by hand with soap and warm water.

Who Should Wear Face Coverings

The CDC advises all people over the age of two wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when:

  • in a public place
  • patronizing businesses
  • it is difficult to keep six feet away from other people such as visiting a grocery store/pharmacy or working in areas that involve close proximity with other coworkers

Residents should continue to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet while outside their residence.

Employers are strongly encouraged to provide face coverings to employees who are working in an area or activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet separation from other individuals is not feasible.

What Kind of Mask Should I Be Wearing?

The best mask is the one that conforms well to your face. Depending on the mask and shape of your face, you might achieve this with a

  • KN95 (here are some tips to avoid counterfeits)
  • well-fitting surgical mask (maybe with elastic fitters or a brace to help close up the sides)
  • cloth mask over a surgical mask
  • tight cloth mask in lower risk settings

The main thing is to not have gaps/leakage around the edges of the mask. A cloth mask should have at least two layers and be heavy enough to block light. Cloth will filter less than the other kinds, while the difference in filtration between a surgical mask and an N95 for influenza is minimal.

The CDC offers two good web pages on masks:

N95 respirator masks

The federal government is providing no-cost N95 respirator masks. You can get a N95 mask at participating pharmacies, up to three per person, while supplies last.

  • Follow instructions for each brand.
  • Discard if your respirator gets wet or soiled, or if it longer fits well, either because the elastic is weakening or because the material is wearing out.
  • Do not try to decontaminate it by putting it in the oven or washing it. Instead, rotate usage, allowing each mask to dry out for a few days between uses.
  • Tight fit is the important thing here—an N95 that is constantly sliding down your face is worse than a well-fitting surgical mask.


NOTE: IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU NOT OBTAIN OR WEAR MEDICAL MASKS or N-95 RESPIRATORS AS THEY ARE A NEEDED RESOURCE FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AND FIRST RESPONDERS. Our healthcare workers and first responders on the front­line combating COVID-19 must have priority access to medical masks or other personal protective equipment.

How and When to Wear It

Face mask should fit snugly and cover nose and mouth.

Face covering should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Face coverings do not need to be worn in the following circumstances:

  • When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside
  • While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
  • When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk.
  • While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment
  • While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, for example, banks
  • When consuming food or drink

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