Face Covering Information

Wear a cloth face covering:

  • In any indoor public place.
  • In outdoor public places where you cannot stay at least six feet away from people outside of your household.
  • In healthcare settings, like hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, vet clinics, laboratories, and blood banks.
  • While driving or operating any type of public transportation, such as a bus, cab, paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private-car sharing service.
  • At work while interacting with any member of the public, walking through common areas, or working in any area where food is prepared or packaged for distribution to others.

You DO NOT need a cloth face covering if you:

  • Are exercising or engaging in an outdoor recreational activity such as walking, running, bicycling, swimming, or hiking when alone or with household members AND you can stay at least six feet away from people outside of your household.
  • Have a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents you from wearing a face covering.
  • Are hearing impaired.
  • Are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired.
  • Are receiving a service that involves the nose or face.

* DO NOT put a cloth face covering on a child two years or younger!

Frequently Asked Questions

Per the Health Officer, essential businesses are required to provide all of their employees whose duties require contact with other employees and/or the public with a cloth face covering to wear. Everyone is asked to wear a face covering when they are interacting with others who are not members of their household in public and private spaces. Face coverings are an additional tool that individuals should use to help slow the spread of COVID-19 but does not replace other physical distancing requirements.

A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Recent information has indicated that covering your nose and mouth can slow the spread of COVID-19 because:

  • Individuals can be contagious before the onset of symptoms. You may be contagious and do not know it. If you have covered your nose and mouth, it can limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • We touch our face less when our face is covered. Touching your face after touching something contaminated with COVID-19 increases your chances of getting sick with COVID-19.

A mask’s primary role is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. They can also provide some protection against exposure for the person wearing the mask. A CDC study has shown that a cloth face mask can block over 50% of the particles from a cough. When both people are wearing a well-fitting mask, exposure to infectious particles can be reduced by about 96%. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing and washing hands and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions. If you plan to use a face covering it is important to keep your nose and mouth covered. Lowering the covering from your nose and mouth while talking defeats the purpose of wearing the face covering since you can spread virus while you talk.

Wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth when you must be in public for essential activities, such as shopping at the grocery store. Wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need to physically distance yourself from others and to wash your hands frequently.

Children under the age of 2 (including infants) should not wear cloth face coverings. Those between the ages of 2 and 8 should use them but under adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation. Children with breathing problems should not wear a face covering.

Acceptable, reusable face covering options for the general public include:

  • Bandana
  • Neck gaiter
  • Homemade face covering
  • Scarf
  • Tightly woven fabric, such as cotton t-shirts and some types of towels

It’s a good idea to wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Have a bag or bin to store cloth face coverings until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that:

  • No longer cover the nose and mouth
  • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • Cannot stay on the face
  • Have holes or tears in the fabric

Purchasing a respirator or face mask intended for the healthcare setting (including N95 respirators and surgical masks) is strongly discouraged. Medical respirators and face masks are worn for protection by healthcare staff and those workers who provide care to a person who might have COVID-19. In contrast, the face covering recommended for the general public is intended to prevent COVID-19 transmission to others by someone who might not know they are infected.

Additionally, Medical respirators and face masks are in short supply and are needed by healthcare staff to safely provide care for persons with COVID-19. Therefore, it is critical that these medical items not be used outside of the healthcare setting.

Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others should wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, if their condition permits it.

Additional Coronavirus Information

Contact Us:
For Public Information: (209) 558-7535
For Hospital & Provider Information: (209) 558-5678

California Department of Public Health
Stigma Related to COVID-19
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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