COVID-19 Face Mask/Cover MOST Frequently Asked Questions

The CDC recommends the use of cloth face coverings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

 

Why do we have to wear face masks in public?

The CDC now recommends wearing face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

In addition to physical barriers such as plexiglass shields, face covers can act as a physical barrier and may reduce the exhalation of respiratory droplets and unknowing transmission by infected individuals who may not display symptoms.

Evidence confirms that the best methods to prevent infection are hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and water or use of hand sanitizer and avoiding handshakes), proper sneeze/cough etiquette, cleaning of high touch surfaces, and to practice social distancing wherever possible.

  • Hand hygiene should be performed immediately before and after touching or removing the face cover. 
  • Face covers must cover your mouth and nose. 
  • To minimize the risk of exposure, avoid touching your face cover and face. 
  • Face covers should be removed while eating or drinking. 
  • When a face cover is not in use, place it in a paper bag for storage.
  • Face covers are to be replaced after using twice, or if wet, visibly soiled or damaged. Discard used or soiled face cover in a lined trash bin. 
  • In the rare event a face cover becomes caked, soaked or dripping in blood or other bodily fluid, it should be carefully disposed in an empty Biohazard Sharps container is available. 

 

Why should we wear a face cover and is it an effective form of protection?

Face covers can act as a physical barrier and may reduce the exhalation of respiratory droplets and unknowing transmission of virus in times of community spread at times when social distancing is not possible. Evidence confirms that the best methods to prevent infection are to practice social distancing whenever possible, to follow proper cough and sneeze etiquette, and to practice good hand hygiene (including no handshaking as well as wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer). 

 

If I am wearing a face cover, do I still need to socially distance myself?

Yes. Wearing a face cover does not eliminate the need to physically distance yourself from others. 

 

If I am wearing a face cover, do I still need to practice hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette?

Yes. Wearing a face cover does not eliminate the need to frequently wash hands and practice cough/sneeze etiquette. 

 

How well do face covers work to prevent spread of COVID-19?

Face covers do not prevent the wearer from inhaling smaller airborne particles and are not considered respiratory protection from coronavirus. However, face covers may help prevent people without symptoms who are infected from spreading the virus to others. Given that many people may not be aware they have the coronavirus, broader use of these face covers may help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

 

Can a face cover protect me and others from contracting COVID-19?

Face coverings are not a substitute for the proven best methods to prevent infection: social distancing whenever possible, to follow proper cough and sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene, cleaning of high-touch surfaces, and staying home when ill. They may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions. 

 

Is it mandated that we wear face covers at this time?

No. You are strongly encouraged to wear face covers as an additional physical barrier. However, you are not required to wear a face cover at this time. All personal face covers must cover the nose and mouth as well as be in good standing with dress code policy (e.g. no logos or inappropriate images) when applicable. 

 

Has CDC guidance on face covers changed?

CDC now recommends wearing face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Recent evidence shows that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. Walgreens is encouraging this voluntary public health measure that may aid in reducing the spread of COVID-19 as more is learned about the transmission of virus here in the U.S. and within our communities. Physical barriers, including face coverings, may be helpful but must be combined with interventions including social distancing, following proper cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene. The health and safety of our team members, customers and communities have been and continue to be our top priority. 

 

What is the difference between face covers vs face coverings vs a N95 respirator?

  • Disposable face covers such as a surgical mask: Loose fitting, fluid resistant barrier which provides protection against large droplets. They are to be disposed of following single or limited use. 
  • Cloth face coverings: A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth to act as a protective barrier. 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 and may be factory-made or sewn by hand. or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. Some may be washed or cleaned to provide several uses prior to recommended disposal. 
  • N95 Respirator: Reduces exposure to particles including small particle aerosols and large droplets, filtering out at least 95% of the particles. These masks require special fitting in order to be effective. 

 

How often do I need to change my disposable face cover?

Based on CDC guidelines to optimize the supply of face covers and guidance from our clinical office, disposable face covers may be worn up to a maximum of 2 uses before being discarded as long as they are properly stored. You will be notified with any changes or updates to that guidance. NOTE: CDC guidelines outlines optimizing the use of face masks such as during a crisis when supply is limited due to an unexpected surge of use. In accordance with this guidance, limited re-use or extended use beyond manufacturer designated shelf life may be implemented. Manufacturer packaging with replacement recommendations or expiration dates may not reflect this guidance. 

 

When should I discard my disposable face cover?

You should discard face coverings that 

  • Have been worn twice
  • No longer cover the nose and mouth and cannot stay on the face 
  • Have stretched out or have damaged ties or straps 
  • Have holes or tears in the fabric 
  • Are damaged, soiled or wet 

 

How should I care for my personal cloth face cover?

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 it until it can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. Make sure to wash your hands every time you put on and remove the face cover. 

 

How do I properly use a face mask or face cover?

Some masks are fastened with ties, others with elastic. If the mask has ties, place the mask over your mouth, nose and chin. Fit the flexible nose piece to the form of your nose bridge; tie the upper set at the back of your head and the lower set at the base of your neck. 

If a mask has elastic head bands, separate the two bands, hold the mask in one hand and the bands in the other. Place and hold the mask over your nose, mouth, and chin, then stretch the bands over your head and secure them comfortably as shown; one band on the upper back of your head, the other below the ears at the base of the neck. 

Adjust the mask to fit. Remember, you don’t want to be touching it during use so take the few seconds needed to make sure it is secure on your head and fits snuggly around your face so there are no gaps. 

To remove a mask, note that the front is considered contaminated and should not be touched. 

Follow these steps: 

  • First untie the bottom, then the top tie. 
  • Lift the mask away from the face. 
  • Discard in designated receptacle. 

 

 

Important COVID-19 Resources & Links

 

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