Using facemasks and other PPE

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Healthcare workers and caregivers who are taking care of individuals that have shown symptoms of the coronavirus (at home or in a healthcare facility) should use specialized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like N95 or KN95 Respirators, while providing care. If the person you are caring for starts to show any symptoms of the coronavirus, contact a health professional right away to get information about how to protect yourself. Because there is a shortage of specialized equipment like the respirators, it should NOT be used by the general public.

The CDC recommends widespread use of cloth or disposable surgical masks by the general public as a way to help stop the spread of the virus. If you are coming into close contact with another person while at work or in public, it is recommended that everyone wear a mask if possible (with the exception of children). It’s very important that if you wear a mask you follow certain tips:

  1. avoid touching your face while wearing a mask
  2. a homemade mask should be snugly fit over the bridge of the nose and below the chin, but not stretched so tightly that the fabric is flat up against the nose and lips
  3. be careful when you take the mask off – do not touch the front of the mask, instead, remove by just touching the straps
  4. after removing the mask, dispose of it right away if it’s disposable, or set aside to wash after each use if it’s a cloth mask
  5. make sure to wash your hands carefully right after you take the mask off

Note that homemade cloth masks are not considered effective at preventing the wearer from being exposed to the virus. But they are helpful in containing the wearer’s coughs or sneezes as an important preventive measure to protect others around them. To learn more about how to make your own cloth mask, and how to use it correctly, check out this flier from the CDC:

In addition to face masks, gloves can help limit your exposure to the coronavirus from frequently touched surfaces (especially if you are unable to wash your hands). They are also important to protect your skin from chemicals in disinfectants if you are doing cleaning. When using gloves, make sure to follow these tips:

  1. avoid touching your face
  2. do not reuse disposable gloves – throw in the trash after each use
  3. for disposable gloves, non-latex ones like nitrile gloves are best
  4. if you are using non-disposable gloves (heavy duty rubber or other sturdy material), wash your hands with soap and water with the gloves on before removing them
  5. wash your hands thoroughly right after removing gloves

*For domestic workers, using Personal Protective Equipment can be an added way to stay safe, but it’s important to continue practicing all of the other safety measures – especially physical distancing and good hand washing – to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.*

**NOTE and disclaimer: NDWA is not a healthcare or legal services provider. These resources should not be considered legal or health advice. If you or someone in your family begins to experience symptoms of coronavirus, call your healthcare provider directly.