As of June 18, 2020, the State of California mandates the use of face coverings in many public settings. See the official guidance for more details.
Your mask isn't just for you. A cloth face covering helps protect your family, your friends, and anyone around you from the spread of COVID-19. To keep our community safe and our businesses open, always wear a face covering or mask that completely covers your nose and mouth when out and try to keep at least six feet apart from others.
Protect yourself and others from COVID-19
Face coverings and masks can help protect the people around you. The novel coronavirus spreads mainly person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can be transmitted by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are sick. Do your part to stop COVID-19 by wearing a cloth face covering in public places—even if you don't think you are sick or have been exposed to the virus.
Recent studies suggest that correctly-worn face coverings provide some measure of protection for the wearer as well.
Face coverings and masks are only one part of the solution. Face coverings are only helpful when they are worn correctly and used with other recommendations. They are not a replacement for washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, practicing physical distancing, and staying home.
Wearing a cloth face covering
Face coverings help protect the community from the spread of COVID-19. A cloth face covering should cover your nose and mouth and be secured snugly under your chin and against the sides of your face. Make sure you are able to breathe easily while wearing a face covering or mask.
Wash your hands before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have the opportunity to wash them.
Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
Note that some N-95 masks include unfiltered exhalation valves. This type allows the virus to potentially escape the mask and should not be used.
Face coverings should not be used by children under age 2 or anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance. Consult your doctor if you have difficulty breathing with a mask.
Caring for your cloth face covering
Dirty face coverings can be a source of germs and infection. Reusable face coverings should be washed and dried routinely. Store used face coverings in a plastic bag or bin until they can be laundered.
You can include your face covering with your regular laundry in the washing machine with regular laundry detergent. Make sure to completely dry your face covering after washing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cloth face covering?
A cloth face covering is a non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth. A face covering can be made out of a variety of materials, such as cloth, fabric and other permeable material. You can buy them or make them at home using items such as scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts or towels.
How effectively do cloth face coverings prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The primary role of cloth face coverings is to contain the release of infected respiratory droplets when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. With that in mind, even simple face coverings can be effective. Face coverings are not a substitute for washing hands, physical distancing while performing essential activities, and staying home, but they may be helpful when combined with these actions.
When should I wear a cloth face covering?
You should wear a face covering when you're around people who aren't part of your household. This is particularly important in public places that are indoors or in areas where physical distancing is not possible.
Do I need to wear a face covering outdoors?
Face coverings are recommended in all public settings, including the outdoors. California's official guidance on face coverings requires people to wear a face covering in outdoor spaces where staying six feet apart from others is not feasible.
Why should I use a cloth face covering instead of a medical N-95 respirator or surgical mask?
Medical N-95 respirators and surgical masks continue to be in short supply. Unless your work requires them, they need to be saved for health workers and first responders on the frontlines of COVID-19.
When should I replace my cloth face covering?
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
How can I make my own face covering?
The CDC has a tutorial on sewing your own face covering as well as a video on how to make an improvised mask with no sewing required.