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Members of the general public should not purchase medical grade or surgical masks at this time, as there is a serious shortage of face masks for health care workers. Medical masks should be reserved for health care providers who are on the front lines working to protect us all. Please avoid shopping for surgical, N95 respirator, or other medical masks.
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No, we use the terms interchangeably.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define cloth face coverings as fabric coverings including cloth face masks, scarves and bandana coverings, or any homemade face covering made of cotton fabric.
The CDC also makes clear that cloth face coverings should:
You can find more information on the CDC’s website.
Consistent use of a face mask or respirator in indoor public settings was associated with lower odds of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on February 4, 2022. Use of respirators with higher filtration capacity was associated with the most protection, compared with no mask use. Click here to read more.
Yes, private business owners have the authority to create and maintain policies that protect the health of employees and customers.
Face coverings are no longer required, however they are recommended when COVID-19 case rates are high. Check the current recommendation status by vising our case information page here.
Transparent face shields aren’t a direct substitute for face coverings because they don’t protect others. Droplets released when someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks can be dispersed through the sides and bottom of the shield. Shields are useful for protecting the wearer from other people’s sneezes and coughs.
Absolutely not. A “medical exemption” is a statement from a licensed health care provider that says a person is unable to wear a mask due to medical or mental health problems. It does not give a person permission to transmit a dangerous infectious disease to other people. Common conditions like asthma, allergies, or chronic lung disease are not valid reasons for a “medical exemption”. They are actually strong reasons to wear masks as many of these chronic conditions are associated with increased risk of COVID-19 complications. People who have valid physical or psychological reasons that prevent them from wearing masks (facial deformities, panic disorders, developmental disabilities) are unable to go into places where masks are required. They should seek assistance from friends and family to help purchase essential foods and medication. Businesses are required to offer alternate ways of providing products and services such as curbside pick-up or home delivery.
Not being able to wear a mask in an occupational setting is a serious disability and prevents a person from being involved in any face-to-face encounters with customers or coworkers. Only jobs that can be performed alone in a room or outdoors greater than 6 feet away from others can be safely performed without a mask. A face shield is not a substitute for a face mask. The protective effect of a mask comes from its ability to trap respiratory droplets and aerosols (“source control”). Face shields offer good protection for the eyes but have no significant “source control” effect. We now believe that 40% or more of people who have COVID-19 have no symptoms but can still be highly infectious. This is why everyone must wear a mask while indoors or closer than 6 feet outdoors.
Yes. Face coverings should not be worn by children who are two years of age or younger, or children under the age of twelve unless supervised by an adult. Additionally, if wearing a face covering would be difficult or harmful, an individual should not do so. Examples would be someone who has a physical disability that makes it difficult to easily wear or remove a face covering; someone who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communications; someone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear one; or someone who has trouble breathing or cannot remove a face covering without assistance.