The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has updated guidance on wearing cloth face coverings to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Officials provided updated information on how members of the general public can safely use cloth face coverings when they need to leave their home for a short period of time to obtain essential goods or services.
Members of the general public should use a clean face covering anytime they will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces.
It is important to note that face coverings are not a substitute for always practicing physical distancing and frequent handwashing. Our best community and individual defense against COVID-19 is to wash our hands frequently, avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid being around sick people and practicing physical distancing, especially by staying at home.
Face coverings are not a replacement for these evidence-based strategies for slowing the spread of disease; they are just an additional tool that can protect others from possible exposure to respiratory droplets that may come from our mouth when we talk, sneeze or cough.
Cloth face coverings are not intended for use by healthcare workers, first responders, and others whose work requires close contact with people who are ill.
Q: What is a cloth face covering?
A: 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.
Q: Why wear a face cover?
A: 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.
Q: How well do cloth face coverings work to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
A: There is limited evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Their 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.
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.
Q: Why might I cover my face now, when a face covering was not recommended before?
A: The face covering was not previously recommended for the general public for protection from getting COVID-19. We are learning that individuals may be contagious and spread COVID-19 without their knowledge, even if they do not have symptoms. This new information suggests that a face cover may protect others from infection. Wearing a face cover may help prevent the spread of droplets that might be infectious.
Q: When should I wear a cloth face covering?
A: You are asked to 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.
Q: What are my face covering options?
A: Acceptable, reusable face covering options for the general public include:
• Neck gaiter
• Homemade face covering
• Tightly woven fabric, such as cotton t-shirts and some types of towels
Q: Do children need to use cloth face coverings as well?
A: 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.