Last updated: January 15, 2022
A surgical mask or KN95 mask will provide the best protection from COVID-19 and its variants.
When is a face mask or covering needed?
Currently everyone regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask indoors in public spaces and in outdoor public spaces where physical distancing is not feasible to have the greatest protection from the COVID variants and to prevent possibly spreading COVID to others. These recommendations are based on the county’s case rate which determines the Level of Community Transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Face masks are required in some health care facilities and on public transportation. Private businesses and workplaces are strongly advised to put in place required face mask policies. Wearing a mask is a way to slow the spread when around others outside your household. The two biggest risks are social gatherings and public dining, which bring people together who are not usually together. Keep your bubble of contacts as small as possible, and do not let your guard down.
Also if you are not fully vaccinated, get the COVID vaccine as soon as possible. For free vaccination clinics, visit https://aahealth.org/vaccine-locations/.
What are the reasons to wear face masks and face coverings?
Face masks block the spread of larger respiratory droplets and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. By wearing a face covering, you will help to keep people healthy and safe and enable businesses and schools to stay open.
What is an appropriate face covering?
A face covering must fully cover, without gaps, a person’s nose, mouth, and chin and is secured to the person’s head. A surgical mask or KN95 mask will provide the best protection from COVID-19 and its variants. If you must wear a cloth mask, it should have two or more layers and contain a filter. Gaiters are not recommended because they do not fit snugly around the face. A face shield worn alone does not completely cover the nose and mouth, and it does not qualify as a face covering. Masks with valves are also ineffective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
How should I handle the face covering?
Clean your hands before you put on the face covering and after you take it off. Masks should be removed carefully, without touching the outside surface.
How should I clean a cloth face covering?
- Change a cloth face covering after approximately eight hours of usage or if visibly worn, soiled or difficult to breathe through, whichever comes first.
- Wash a cloth covering on a daily basis. You can include it with your regular laundry. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the covering’s fabric.
What are some tips for wearing coverings in hot weather?
As the weather gets hotter, wearing face masks and coverings can be slightly uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help make it easier:
- Use a lightweight breathable fabric.
- 100% cotton fabric works best. Take along a couple of masks in case the one you are wearing becomes wet.
- Nylon spandex blends also work well for breathability and moisture-wicking.
How can I keep my eyeglasses from fogging up when I have on my face mask?
You can eliminate glasses from fogging up by washing them with soapy water, shake off the excess and allow them to air dry. The soap leaves behind a thin film that builds a fog barrier, helping you to see better. Also, make sure your mask fits snuggly, especially at the top.
Who should not wear a face covering?
Face coverings should not be worn by children under age 2; by anyone who has a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents mask wearing; by people communicating where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; and by people while eating or drinking at food establishments.
Customers with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask are able to request reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Title II and III). This could include curbside delivery, personal shopping service in the store to reduce exposure, or phone shopping with delivery. For more guidance on the ADA, contact the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center at www.adainfo.org or 1-800-949-4232. Customers cannot be asked invasive questions about a disability or requested to provide medical documentation.
Employees that cannot wear a face covering due to a disability may request reasonable accommodations in accordance with the employer’s disability policies (ADA Title I). An employer’s policies may require documentation to grant reasonable accommodations.