A hospital cannot utilize homemade cloth masks as a substitute for regulation personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N-95 or surgical masks. Clinical trials suggest cloth masks offer poor filtration and are an inefficient form of protection against respiratory infection, especially in high-risk environments.
However, some community organizations are accepting homemade masks for use in non-clinical settings. Inquire with your local city or town government, local public safety agency, or community center to see if they are accepting donations of handmade masks.
On April 17, Marin County Public Health announced a public health order requiring the use of face coverings when completing essential activities. This order, which remains in effect, requires most individuals to wear a face covering when they are interacting with others who are not members of their household in public and private spaces. Any child aged two years or less must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
You do not need to wear a face covering while you are exercising outdoors by yourself, but you must keep one with you at all times to put on when you see someone approaching and ensure your nose and mouth are securely covered by the time you get within six feet of them. Each person engaged in such activity must comply with Social Distancing Requirements including maintaining at least six feet of separation from all other people to the greatest extent possible.
Face coverings that can be reused (e.g., bandana, washable cloth masks) should be washed with hot water and dried before reusing again. We actually encourage the use of washable masks because hospital grade masks are difficult to obtain because they are in high demand. Remember to wash your hands after handling any used face coverings that have not yet been washed.
If you choose to use one-time use face coverings (e.g., surgical masks), those should be disposed of in a garbage receptacle. This would include any gloves you choose to wear. Remember to wash your hands after removing your gloves.
All individuals are required to wear masks/face coverings when at a business, both indoors or outdoors, whether employee or customer. Businesses are required to enforce this, so if a restaurant asks you to keep your mask on while you are waiting for your food to arrive, or after you have finished your meal, please comply.
You can remove your mask to address basic biological necessities like eating and drinking, but you should replace your mask as soon as possible if you have to remove it. This is especially important if you are eating or drinking in public areas -- indoors or outdoors. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer both before and after handling your face covering.
Source: Marin Public Health Order
The State of California issued a mask / face covering mandate on June 18, that is more restrictive than Marin's Facial Covering order and should be followed. In sum, children over 2 years old should follow the State of California's order, which requires face masks when out in public. You can find more information about proper mask fitting and scenarios for wearing a mask on our Face Coverings and Masks webpage.
Regarding camps, youth activities and child care / day care environments: the State of California's order defers to the local level, therefore, operators of camps, youth activities, and child care can continue to follow Marin's guidelines. In a camp, youth activities or child care environment, children 12 years and over are required to wear face coverings. In a camp, youth activities, or child care environment, children over 2 up to 12 years old should be encouraged to wear them as much as reasonable, with supervision, however, they are not required to wear them. Children 2 and under are not supposed to wear face coverings. Children over the age of 2 should wear cloth face coverings when not actively engaged in physical activity to reduce the risk for transmission only if the parent and provider determine they can reliably wear, remove, and handle face coverings following CDC guidance throughout the day. Children under 12 wearing a cloth face covering shall be actively monitored by child care, youth activity, or camp personnel at all times.
Yes. Even if you have already had COVID-19, you still may be contagious or have the ability to pass the virus to others.
Yes. All individuals are required to wear a mask at a business, both indoor and outdoor businesses, whether as an employee or a customer. A store or business can prohibit you from entering their business if you do not have a face covering. However, if you have a medical condition or disability that prevents you from safely wearing a face covering, then you should speak with a store manager or employee about a reasonable accommodation to help you obtain the services you need without endangering your health or the health of other shoppers.
Masks with a one-way valve (typically a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask) are designed for industrial use, such as construction or carpentry work, to protect the user from inhaling dust and certain particles encountered during sanding projects, sawing, sweeping, etc. While these masks may protect the wearer from breathing particles, the valve also permits respiratory droplets to exit the mask, putting others nearby at risk.
The purpose of both Marin's and the State of California's facial covering order is to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets from one wearer to another. COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. Use of face coverings lowers the risk that an undiagnosed carrier will transmit it to others.
Wearing a mask with a valve makes it impossible to keep with the spirit of ‘your mask protects me, my mask protects you.'
Any mask that incorporates a one-way valve is not a proper Face Covering under Marin's Facial Covering Public Health Order and is not to be used to comply with the order's requirements. A store or business can prohibit you from entering the building if you do not have a face covering or if you are wearing a mask with a valve.
Yes. If you are in a public space, you are required to wear a face covering even if you do not have symptoms or feel sick. People with COVID-19 sometimes do not have a fever, cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms, but can unknowingly, spread the virus to others. Wearing a face covering is meant to protect other people in case you are infected and do not know it.
The State of California's mandate of face coverings requires any person over 2 years of age to wear a face covering when in a public place, especially when:
- at indoor AND outdoor businesses – whether as an employee or a customer
- waiting in line to enter a store
- waiting for and using public transit
- when in a taxi or rideshare
- when seeking healthcare; or visiting a hospital, medical clinic, pharmacy, laboratory, dental office, veterinary clinic or blood bank
- walking outside and within 6 feet of others (about the length of a mattress)
Exceptions may be made for individuals with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering. For more information, visit coronavirus.marinhhs.org/masks
A face covering is a mask or cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth. The face covering should allow for breathing without restriction. There is no requirement to wear a hospital grade mask or other specific type or brand of face covering. You may wear a homemade face covering, if it fits closely and covers your nose and mouth.
More specific information on how to make or care for your face covering is available on the Marin HHS website.
No, not when used by themselves (without a mask). The purpose of face shields is to protect the facial area and eyes, nose and mouth from splashes, sprays or splatters of body fluids and are usually used by health care workers, dental providers, and other emergency medical providers.
Face shields are generally not used alone, but in conjunction with other protective equipment like a mask.
Face shields do not hug the face like a mask. Face shields used without masks still allow the respiratory droplets to escape because the shields are open on the sides and bottom. In the sense of “my mask protects you, your mask protects me” a face shield used alone does not stop the flow of respiratory droplets like wearing an appropriate fitting mask or face covering does.