What is PPE?2021-03-30T10:40:48-04:00

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can refer to anything used to protect the wearer from getting a harmed injury, or in the case of the Coronavirus pandemic, from disease infection. This includes masks, respirators, gloves, shields, goggles, and more. The most important article of PPE against coronavirus is a face covering: a High-Efficiency mask or respirator.

Will PPE protect me from getting COVID-19?2021-03-30T10:43:18-04:00

Yes, they can protect you. However, no single article of PPE is a guarantee against transmission. Using as many as possible (and as appropriate for your activity) is important. For face coverings like masks and respirators, filtering efficiency, fit, seal, durability, reusability, and breathability are all important. Not all PPE are the same: some styles of masks are more effective than others. For more information, see selection.

What are the benefits of wearing PPE?2021-03-30T10:44:18-04:00

Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will protect you from coronavirus transmission. It also protects others around you, in case you are contagious and unaware of your condition. It could also reduce disease severity and ensure that a more significant proportion of new infections are asymptomatic. PPE remains one of the most promising factors to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are there any downsides to wearing PPE?2021-03-30T10:44:56-04:00

There are no medical or health downsides to wearing PPE. Some articles of PPE may be cumbersome or provide minor discomfort to the wearer, but these minor downsides do not outweigh the advantages of PPE.

How does not wearing PPE increase the spread of COVID-19?2021-03-30T10:47:23-04:00

Much of the community spread of Covid-19 comes from asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals. That means that they don’t display symptoms and may not know that they’re contagious. Without symptoms, people will not know that they need to quarantine and isolate themselves to protect others, and people around them will be unaware of the risk of being in contact. The danger is even greater in public spaces, where you may come into contact with a greater number of people.

The CDC estimated transmission from asymptomatic infected individuals contribute to 59% of known cases. With new strains, as well as many cases going unidentified in communities with less access to testing, asymptomatic transmission could be even higher.

How often should PPE be replaced?2021-03-30T10:49:46-04:00

It depends on the type of PPE: some are disposable and intended to be replaced after every use. Others need time and cleaning to decontaminate before they can be used again. For more information on disinfecting face masks, see decontamination.

Any PPE that has become damaged should be replaced immediately.

How often should PPE be stored?2021-03-30T10:53:38-04:00

PPE should be stored when it is not in use in a sterile and dry environment, e.g. a paper bag. If reusable (e.g. a reusable mask), it should be thoroughly decontaminated prior to storing.

For more information on decontaminating, handling, and storing different types of PPE, see decontamination.

Does PPE have to be tested and inspected?2021-03-30T10:56:24-04:00

Yes, PPE has to be regularly tested and inspected, especially if the PPE you are using is reusable.

In particular, masks can be tested and inspected in various ways. Looking out for the fit and seal of a mask is important to ensure that your mask is adequately sealed around your nose and mouth, therefore effectively protecting you. Also, scanning your masks for any visible damage before every use is of the utmost importance. Prolonged damage may cause PPE to lose its effectiveness due to general wear and tear, misuse, and exposure to dirt, contaminants, UV light, or chemicals.

Can I share PPE with others?2021-03-30T10:57:13-04:00

It is strongly advised that PPE is not shared with others. The majority of PPE is intended to be used by one person. Sharing PPE may expose another person to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as reduce its protective capabilities if it is used more than advised.

So, in your mind, think of your mask as more like a toothbrush, and less like a hat or jacket.

How can I convince friends, family, and others to wear PPE?2021-03-30T11:00:12-04:00

Trying to convince others to wear a mask can be a tricky, yet crucial task. Try to avoid shaming people into wearing masks, as this can create a hostile and inflexible attitude towards masks. Instead, people respond better to being listened to and treated with respect – regardless of political affiliation or social status. Take yourself into consideration in this case. Would you react better in modifying your actions if someone was trying to push you into submission, or if they were extending an olive branch? Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Be sure to emphasize the benefit of them wearing masks, not just for themselves, but for everyone else as well. The slogan adopted by the CDC puts it best: “Your mask may protect them. Their mask may protect you”. Also, be sure to ask questions and help them debunk some of the myths and negative associations surrounding mask-wearing. Most importantly, educate them by providing them with easy-to-read sources, like PPEHOTLINE.com!

For easy to read and informative content regarding masks, click here.

Are there other types of PPE that I should be using?2021-03-30T11:03:18-04:00

All other types of PPE offer you additional protection, but none of them can replace a face mask. The face mask or respirator is the most important part of PPE you can use. If you do want to take your efforts the extra mile, you may consider gloves and eye protection. We have more information on that here.

What are the main different types of masks?2021-03-30T11:06:06-04:00

Respirators — also known as Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs) — such as N95 respirators, powered respirators such as Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs), 3D printed masks, surgical masks, procedure masks, non-medical disposable masks, and cloth masks. See Selection.

What is the difference between a normal face mask and a respirator/filtration mask?2021-03-30T11:08:07-04:00

A mask (whether a surgical mask, non-medical disposable mask, or cloth mask), covers the wearer’s nose and mouth in order to block and filter their exhaled breath as it exits their body. This protects everyone else around them from them, in case they are contagious, and can provide some protection to the wearer by blocking large droplets from landing on their face.

A respirator or filtration mask filters the air inhaled by the wearer, offering the wearer a greater amount of protection from others than a mask would. These types of masks often offer a tighter fit relative to surgical masks.

For more information on using cloth masks, see our page on DIY Masks.

What about N95s and surgical masks?2021-03-30T11:09:23-04:00

An N95 is a filtration mask, or a type of respirator because it filters the particles in the air being inhaled.

Surgical masks are not respirators, but they do filter more particles than other types of disposable or basic fabric masks. Both of these will provide the wearer with more protection than a basic mask.

For more information on selecting a mask type, see our page on Selection.

If surgical masks, N95s, filtration masks, and respirators are so great then why aren’t they recommended by the government?2021-03-30T11:11:13-04:00

Many countries have been experiencing a shortage of high-efficiency masks, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. In order to ration supplies to make sure there were enough for doctors and health care workers, many governments recommended that the public wear fabric masks instead.

Some governments are now recommending (or even requiring) filtration masks for everyone. We expect this trend to continue, and we are working to increase the number of high filtration masks and respirators available to the general public. This is also why we believe it is important to have reusable respirators!

What material should face masks be made from?2021-03-30T11:13:45-04:00

The filtration efficiency of your mask is dependent on what materials your masks are made from, as well as how many layers of material there are.

For more information regarding the filtration efficiency of masks made from different materials, click here.

Are medical procedure masks safe?2021-03-30T11:15:19-04:00

Medical procedure masks are reliable and safe, however, like all High-Efficiency masks, it is important that they fit properly and have a good seal between your face. For more information on what makes a High-Efficient mask, see selection.

Does the mask need to cover my nose?2021-03-30T11:16:16-04:00

Yes! We breathe through both our noses and mouths, so SARS-Cov-2 particles can exit and enter your body through your nose just as easily as your mouth. If your nose is not covered, then you are not properly masked.

Why do I have to cover my nose?2021-03-30T11:17:00-04:00

The nose is one of the prime entry points for the coronavirus. A key protein called the ACE2 receptor, which the coronavirus uses to enter and infect cells, is found in high densities in the nasal membrane.

How tight should my face mask be?2021-03-30T11:17:55-04:00

Your face mask does not need to be tight to your face but it should be sealed against your face on all edges. If it is hanging loose, then air will flow around it (if it hangs loose like a bandana, it is a veil and not a mask).

If it feels “tight” like it is smothering you, then it is either too small or it is a style that is not a good fit for your face. If it is touching your lips, or even going inside your mouth when you speak, then it is too small. If the edges of the fabric face mask are hitting your face closer to your lips than your ears, it is too small or a bad style for you.

How can I safely remove my face mask?2021-03-30T11:19:14-04:00

Wash your hands before and after touching your mask. Remove it by touching the ear-loops or head-straps instead of touching the facial portion directly. Place it in a bag or container, rather than setting it down on a counter or shared surface where it may contaminate or be contaminated by other things.

For more information regarding masks usage, click here.

Do I have to wear a face mask outside/in public?2021-03-30T11:21:20-04:00

Yes, if you are in a location where you could cross paths or bump into people who are not members of your household, you should wear a mask.

Outdoor settings are much safer than indoor spaces as the exhaled coronavirus particles are able to disperse in the wind (rather than float in the air as they do indoors), but transmission is still possible outdoors. Aerosol plumes of exhaled breath are most concentrated within the first few feet, so keeping a distance is important. However, there are many times and places outdoors where you may have unanticipated contact from strangers who approach you within a few feet and you are not able to keep your distance, which is why we recommend wearing face masks in any outdoor public setting.

Should I wear a face mask in private settings?2021-03-30T11:22:54-04:00

It depends on where you are and who you are with. If you are home, in your personal space alone, or with family, you can unmask so long as everyone has consented to share the air with you. However, if you are socializing and visiting family or friends you do not live with, masks are strongly recommended at all times while indoors.

Private residences are generally not as well-ventilated as public, industrial, and retail spaces, which means that transmission risk is higher in private settings because virus particles can build up to higher concentrations, in turn, staying in the air for longer periods.

Do I have to wear a face mask while exercising outside?2021-03-30T11:24:59-04:00

Generally speaking, deciding when to wear a mask during exercise depends on whether other people will be around. For instance, if you are exercising in a crowded park, where you will be passing in between crowds and it will be hard to maintain a safe distance, you will want to wear a mask. However, if you are running alone in your neighborhood, where it is easy to maintain a safe distance and you may pass the occasional dog walker or another runner, you will not need to wear a face mask. Instead, be sure to always avoid coming into close contact with other outsiders.

What is double-masking?2021-03-30T11:26:31-04:00

The purpose of wearing two masks is to improve fit and filtration. Low efficiency and basic masks such as cloth masks or loose-fitting surgical masks should have additional layers. For more information on selecting masks, see selection

Would wearing two face masks be more effective than wearing one?2021-03-30T11:29:55-04:00

It depends on the type of face masks. Wearing a higher-quality face mask is preferable to layering up lower-quality masks. However, if that is all you have access to, then layering the low-quality masks will help increase the filtration.

If you are wearing an N95/FFP2/KF94 along with a fabric face mask, make sure to wear the N95/FFP2/KF94 underneath the fabric mask rather than on top in order to provide yourself with the most filtration and protection.

Should I double-mask if I’m using a High-Efficiency mask?2021-03-30T11:30:48-04:00

It’s important to note the difference between doubling up on masks to protect a High-Efficiency mask and wearing two masks for extra protection. In general, High-Efficiency masks, which are tight-fitted and block out at least 94% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, don’t require double masking. However, one might need to cover these masks with a fluid-resistant material to protect from liquid hazards such as splashes.

Should I wear a surgical mask under my High-Efficiency?2021-03-30T11:31:30-04:00

No, this is not needed, and it might decrease the seal of your mask. Just wear your High-Efficiency mask.

Do I have better protection if I wear masks with more layers?2021-03-30T11:32:55-04:00

Not necessarily. Please see masks and respirators for more information.

Do children need to wear masks?2021-03-30T11:33:52-04:00

Yes! All children over the age of 2 years old need to wear face masks.

Face masks are not recommended for children under 2 years of age because of the size of their faces and airways, and because they may not yet be able to speak and communicate should they have problems with the mask. If your child is too young to wear a face mask, it is recommended that they stay home and not enter public spaces.

Do I have to wear a face mask if I don’t feel sick?2021-03-30T11:35:05-04:00

Yes! You can still have a contagious condition with COVID-19 even if you do not feel sick or have any symptoms. Experts believe the majority of COVID-19 transmission is from people who are either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases – in other words, from people who do not feel sick.

Also, a respirator or filtration mask will protect you from coronavirus transmission: wearing one when you don’t feel sick will protect you against getting sick!

Who should wear a face mask?2021-03-30T11:36:59-04:00

Everyone should wear a face mask, except those who have severe breathing issues. These people are advised to stay at home. The efficiency of your face mask is context-dependent. For instance, if you are taking a stroll in a spacious park, a cloth mask will suffice. However, if you are walking down the busy streets of NYC, you will need a high-efficiency mask, seeing as you may be in close proximity to many more people. It is best to note which jurisdiction you are living in: the CDC recommends that everyone above the age of 2-years should be wearing a mask while the UK government allows children under 11-years of age to be maskless. Keep in mind that masks for children under the ages of 2-3 years can be potentially dangerous for the child. It is always best to err on the side of precaution.

Is there anyone who should be exempt from wearing a face mask for physical reasons or breathing problems?2021-03-30T11:38:09-04:00

Facial coverings do not pose any physical danger to healthy individuals.

Those with mild breathing issues may have a harder time adjusting to their face mask. Many people with asthma, allergies, and other breathing problems may benefit from wearing a face mask as it will reduce the amount of dust, pollen, and other environmental particles they are inhaling, in addition to protecting them from coronavirus transmission.

Individuals with severe breathing issues (those who already required oxygen or other physical and medical assistance to breathe) are not recommended to wear a face mask. They should stay home and not enter public spaces.

What if I feel like I can’t breathe when I wear a mask?2021-03-30T11:39:22-04:00

Masks do not block oxygen flow or prevent you from breathing safely. However, it is common to feel sensations of discomfort or even “smothering” when you first start wearing a mask, especially if you are engaging in physical activity like jogging or heavy lifting.

It may take some people longer to get used to a mask, particularly if they have a history of anxiety or panic attacks or are newly experiencing mental health issues during the pandemic. While in a stressful situation, someone may experience a panic attack and mistakenly believe that the mask is to blame for their difficulty in breathing. If this continues to happen, they will associate the mask with anxiety. Breaking the association is important.

Anxiety-related mask issues can be helped by giving yourself an opportunity to get comfortable wearing a mask in a low-risk, familiar setting while engaging in relaxing or enjoyable activities – like wearing one at home while making yourself dinner or wearing it in the car while you drive to work and sing along with the radio. It is also important to seek out professional help with your anxiety, from a therapist, trusted advisor, or community leader, and to remember that everyone is experiencing new and additional stress amidst this pandemic.

What if I can’t talk in my mask, or no one can hear me?2021-03-30T11:40:21-04:00

Talking while wearing a face mask can be a challenge! Some styles of masks are easier than others, but it will always take time for you to get used to the mask and how it affects your speech. With patience and time, it is possible to be understood through any style of face mask.

You will always be slightly “muffled” while wearing a mask. You may need to speak louder, enunciate slowly, and speak as clearly as possible in order to be understood. Making eye contact and using your hands can also help get your message across. It’s helpful to think of talking through a face mask like communicating across a language barrier: if you aren’t being understood, try to phrase your message differently instead of repeating the same words.

What if I am hearing-impaired, or the person I’m trying to talk to has hearing problems? Can we take off our masks to lip-read?2021-03-30T11:41:02-04:00

Communication can be a challenge without being able to see half of another’s face, but it is not recommended to remove your face mask in any indoor, public space. You may need to write things down or bring signs with you to help communicate or use as much body language as possible. If you or the other party do need to unmask and there is no other way to communicate, try to step outdoors first.

I have recovered from Covid-19, do I still need to wear a mask?2021-03-30T11:41:36-04:00

Yes, as there is not enough known about SARS-CoV-2 immunity after infection. It is unclear how long the immunity lasts, and there have possibly been cases of re-infection. In general, it is better to err on the side of caution. You should still wear one of the recommended mask types.

I have recovered from Covid-19, which type of mask do I need to wear?2021-03-30T11:42:35-04:00

We would recommend wearing a High-Efficiency face mask, even if you have recovered from COVID-19. This is because not enough is known about immunity and re-infection. For more information on High-Efficiency masks, see selection.

I’m asymptomatic, do I have to wear a mask?2021-03-30T11:43:44-04:00

Yes, as asymptomatic spread of SARS-CoV-2 is probably not uncommon. Thus, it is best to follow the same precautions.

Which type of mask do I have to wear if I’m asymptomatic?2021-03-30T11:45:05-04:00

We would recommend wearing a High-Efficiency face mask, even if you are asymptomatic. This is because the asymptomatic spread of SARS-CoV-2 is probably not uncommon. For more information on High-Efficiency masks, see selection.

Can I add filters to my cloth mask?2021-03-30T11:45:54-04:00

It would be ok, as long as all the air you inhale passes solely through the filters. However, there are some masks with pockets for removable filters which do not cover the entire surface area where air travels through.

Can I use double-sided tapes to seal my mask?2021-03-30T11:46:40-04:00

It might help for a short time, but the skin moisture, sweat, and fat might reduce the sealing of the tape.

My glasses keep fogging, what should I do?2021-03-30T11:47:29-04:00

If your glasses fog, your breath is most likely leaking out of your mask. Thus, it would be good to double-check your mask fit.

What is Knotting and Tucking?2021-03-30T11:48:08-04:00

Knotting and tucking is knotting the ear loops of a surgical mask and tucking the excess material close to the face to improve the facemask seal.

Should I Knot and Tuck the ear loops of my mask to create a tighter seal to my face?2021-03-30T11:49:30-04:00

We know that many people have been advised to Knot and Tuck/criss-cross the ear loops of their masks in order to create a tighter seal and prevent leakage. However, we want to emphasize that this is not always the best method, and it may actually create more space between your mask and your face. For instance, N95s/FFP2s/KF94s DO NOT need to have the ear loops crisscrossed, as they are already intended to create a tight-fitting seal. Additionally, crossing the ear loops of surgical masks might create bigger gaps at the side of the mask. For these reasons, we only advise to Knot and Tuck/criss-cross the ear loops of your mask if it does not worsen the seal between your face (i.e. create bigger/more gaps).

I don’t know my size, should I go for larger or smaller masks?2021-03-30T11:50:22-04:00

We recommend measuring your face based on manufacturers’ guidelines. However, in doubt, it is safer to err on the side of smaller size masks.

What does the mask’s ‘source control’ mean?2021-03-30T11:51:34-04:00

Source control refers to the strategy used to block respiratory secretion and control the spreading of diseases. The sources of respiratory secretion include speaking, coughing, sneezing, shouting, etc. Masks act as a way of controlling respiratory secretion from these sources, hence why masks are known as ‘source controls’.

Can face masks be reused?2021-03-30T11:52:41-04:00

Only reusable masks can be reused. Single-use, disposable masks should be discarded after one use. However, single-use masks can be harmful to the environment and will increase waste production. This is one of the reasons why we recommend using high-efficiency reusable respirators.

Do I need to wash my face mask?2021-03-30T11:53:30-04:00

Yes. Any type of reusable mask needs to be cleaned between uses. Disposable masks are not designed to be cleaned and should be discarded after use.

How often should face masks be cleaned?2021-03-30T11:54:41-04:00

Every day if you are out in public daily. After each use, if you aren’t in public daily. So, if you need to wear a mask 4-7 days a week, it may be wise to have several masks. That way your washer and dryer won’t invoke a mutiny.

Fabric face masks can be machine-washed with your laundry, but respirators need more delicate handling. See information here.

Can I put face masks in the dryer?2021-03-30T11:56:41-04:00

We highly recommend you read the label of your mask. However, many basic fabric face masks, mainly those without synthetic, antimicrobial, and other Nanotechnology-based materials may be put in the washer or dryer. Some fabric face masks may not be able to handle being dried at high heat due to their fabric; as it is important to thoroughly clean and sterilize masks, we recommend against using any fabric face masks that cannot be washed and dried at high temperatures.

Disposable/single-use respirators or high filtration masks (surgical masks, N95s) cannot be placed in a drier. See information here about decontamination.

Reusable respirators must be carefully cleaned and sterilized but cannot be placed in a drier. See information here about decontamination.

How can I effectively disinfect my face mask?2021-03-30T11:58:00-04:00

It depends on the type of mask. We have plenty of information for you on this topic laid out on our decontamination page.

How do I know if my respirator has expired?2021-03-30T11:58:51-04:00

Respirators come with a designated manufacturer shelf life. It is not recommended that you use your respirator past its shelf life. Additionally, if your respirator is showing any signs of damage, such as broken straps, filters, respirator shape, etc., do not use it and replace it with a new respirator.

Can I still use my mask if it gets wet?2021-03-30T12:00:07-04:00

Any face masks that get wet, for example by a splash, a spray, saliva, sweat, or any other forms of moisture, should be replaced.

When does my mask become less effective?2021-03-30T12:01:09-04:00

Face masks and other PPE may show signs of wear and tear after time; they will become less effective at protecting you even before they look completely “worn out” or “broken”.

Check with the manufacturers for specifics on each PPE item.

What about bandanas, neck gaiters, or scarves?2021-03-30T12:01:49-04:00

While these may technically be facial coverings, they offer much less protection than a mask or a respirator. They may meet requirements at some locations in which masks are mandated, but they are against the health codes for many industries and are not recommended by medical experts.

By hanging loose on the face (like a veil) instead of being “closed” (on or under the chin), a large amount of exhaled breath can “escape” past the cloth and into the air around you, potentially endangering the people nearby and contaminating the air of the room. The same is true in the opposite direction; you are prone to inhale far more unfiltered airborne particles by using a bandana, neck gaiter, or scarf relative to a high-efficiency mask.

If you do opt for the three, note the thread count (per square inch) as well as the number of layers of fabric being used; the higher metric for either will be the relatively safer one (but nowhere near the effectiveness of a high-efficiency mask.

How can I use a High-Efficiency mask with an exhalation valve?2021-03-30T12:02:51-04:00

A High-Efficiency mask with an exhalation valve provides outstanding respiratory protection to the wearer and can also reduce particle emissions to levels similar to or better than those provided by surgical masks, procedure masks, or cloth face coverings. However, the use of an electrocardiogram pad or surgical tape secured over the valve from the inside can further reduce particle emissions.

What about when I need to eat or drink?2021-03-30T12:04:31-04:00

It is true, you will need to remove your face mask in order to eat or drink. For your safety, you should be very careful about where and when you are doing this. Try not to eat and drink in shared, public, indoor spaces. it’s best to be alone or at a safe distance from others.

Reducing the number of situations in which you remove your face mask in front of other people is important. If you are going to eat or drink with other people, it is recommended to do so outdoors with as much distance as possible between you.

I have been vaccinated against Covid-19; do I still need to wear a mask?2021-03-30T12:07:38-04:00

Yes. As there is still a lot unknown about the new SARS-CoV-2 variants and COVID-19 transmission, we recommend wearing a mask for your sake and those around you.

Which type of mask do I need to wear if I have been vaccinated?2021-03-30T12:08:46-04:00

We would still recommend wearing a High-Efficiency face mask, even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19. This is because it is still not entirely known how efficient the vaccines are against the new variants and how good the vaccine is at preventing vaccinated people from spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, you should continue to follow preventative measures and wear a High-Efficiency mask. For more information on High-Efficiency masks, see selection.

Can I wear a plastic face shield instead of a mask?2021-03-30T12:09:59-04:00

No. You can wear one in addition to a face mask, but not as a replacement for one. Plastic face shields offer additional protection against large droplets. They will not filter out small aerosols, which you will still breathe in around the sides of the plastic face shield. For more information regarding eye protection, see eye protection.

Are plastic face shields effective?2021-03-30T12:11:05-04:00

A plastic shield will only protect you from large droplets at the moment they’re being sprayed at you from close range, as in when someone is coughing, sneezing, shouting, or singing near you. A plastic shield cannot protect you from the smaller aerosolized particles that float on air currents and will reach your nose or mouth when you inhale air that flows around the plastic shield. A plastic shield also offers no protection to other people near you as your exhaled breath bounces off the plastic without being filtered.

So as an example, if you are singing with a group, a face shield will be great for you and those around you in the initial seconds. Following that, it becomes more and more useless as time goes on.

For more information regarding eye protection, see eye protection.

Should I be wearing eye protective gear?2021-03-30T12:12:27-04:00

If you are in a high-exposure risk situation, protective eye gear like large goggles can offer you an additional level of protection. It is possible for the coronavirus to enter your body through your eyes. However, coronavirus particles do not exit the body through the eyes. If others around you are wearing high-quality face masks that are well-fitted, and they’re respecting distancing procedures, eye protection becomes less necessary. But, if you are in a situation with unmasked people; a large number of people in a crowded indoor space; or around those who are known to be Covid-positive, eye goggles can offer you very worthwhile additional protection.

Are goggles equal to a face shield to protect my eyes?2021-03-30T12:13:39-04:00

Goggles and face shields both fall under ‘eye protection’ and should be worn when carrying out a job that requires close face-to-face contact, such as those working in a restaurant or a salon. Goggles are the preferred method of eye protection, seeing as they provide a tight barrier around the front and side of your eyes in comparison to a face shield. However, face shields could protect your masks from liquid splashes and droplet spray.

Should I be wearing eye protective gear?2021-03-30T12:14:59-04:00

Eye protective gear is usually worn by health care providers working in areas of high community transmission, and in jobs that require close face-to-face contact e.g. working in a restaurant or a salon. If you work a job or enter a place where you will be having close contact with people, be sure to wear a face shield or goggles in addition to a face mask.

For more information regarding eye protection selection, click here.

Are face shields equal to goggles in protecting my eyes?2021-03-30T12:16:02-04:00

No, a plastic face shield and goggles serve different purposes. The goggles prevent coronavirus particles from entering through your eyes. The face shield protects spray and droplets from landing on any part of your face.

Do I need to wear gloves?2021-03-30T12:17:03-04:00

Gloves are helpful in situations where you will be touching items that are contaminated by others such as food and beverage containers, laundry, others’ face masks, or items that they have touched directly after touching their face. These items are known as fomites.

For more information on gloves, please click here.

What other practices beyond PPE should I be following to help slow the spread of COVID-19?2021-03-30T12:21:01-04:00

There are many practices that are important, but none of them replace wearing PPE.

Social Distancing: (reducing and limiting the number of people that you interact with) is important to reduce community spread and to protect yourself. The fewer people you have contact with, the less chance you have of contracting the coronavirus. It’s important to be able to keep track of who you have had contact with so that you can be contact-traced if one of your contacts happens to test positive.

Physical Distancing: (keeping 6 feet or more of the distance between you and others) is crucial to reduce the number of virus particles to which you will be exposed. The closer you are to someone, the greater the risk of you inhaling virus particles from them.

Contact Tracing: (the process by which you are informed that you have been exposed to someone who was Covid-positive at the time you were together) may be official or may occur through word-of-mouth. Some cities and regions have implemented thorough, extensive, and effective contact tracing programs. Other areas are not yet able to do so. Either way, it’s important that you provide as much information as you can to ensure that everyone you have had contact with is informed as well.

Testing: It is important to get tested for Covid-19 when you have been contact-traced or have reason to believe that you could have potentially been exposed. Most tests will not pick up coronavirus traces immediately: there is a delay between your infection event and the virus building up in your body. It’s recommended to test 7-14 days after your potential exposure. Check with your medical provider or local testing sites for details of when to test and as to what type of test you will receive.

Quarantining: It is important to separate yourself from others while you are waiting to take a test (after being contact-traced) or while you are waiting for your results (after being tested).

Covid-Positive Isolation: If you have tested positive for coronavirus, you need to separate yourself from others until the infection has passed through your body. The amount of time to separate depends on the severity of your infection and how soon it was identified. (You should quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.)

If I wear PPE, do I still have to social distance? Can I go see my friends and family if I wear PPE?2021-03-30T12:22:22-04:00

Social distancing is still important, even with PPE. Not all PPE is equally effective. Most face masks filter only a portion of the virus particles people are emitting and breathing in. A face mask, or even a high-quality respirator, will do a lot to protect you and others, but it cannot make you completely safe.

It’s recommended to reduce your social interactions as much as possible during the pandemic. (And if you are in a Quarantine or Covid-Positive Isolation, do not engage in any social interactions at all. Wear as much PPE as you can while seeking medical attention.)

If you are going to see friends and family, it is recommended to still wear PPE when you do so. Try to choose outdoor locations rather than meeting indoors, avoid eating food together so that you don’t have to remove your masks, and keep as much distance as possible.

Can I take my mask off if I am 6 feet away from other people? Isn’t that a safe distance?2021-03-30T12:25:20-04:00

No, especially not indoors.

The 6 feet (or 2 meters) distancing guidelines that many governments have issued are based on the early understanding of coronavirus transmission through large droplets, which mostly fall to the ground within that range. Our understanding of coronavirus transmission has increased over time: we now know that smaller aerosols, or pockets of viral particles suspended in small amounts of fluid, are emitted from infected individuals and that they can hang in the air and float around, like smoke or vapor. Aerosols are more highly concentrated closer to the source: there will be more aerosol virus particles closer to the infected person.
Outdoors, aerosols can disperse with the wind. They don’t hang around for very long. Indoors, aerosols could remain in the air for several hours, and longer if the space is not well ventilated. Some air systems recycle the air without filtering it, meaning that the aerosols are blown around the room or even blown from one room to another.

Governments are working on updating their guidelines. The further away you get, the safer you are. 6 feet is a good “minimum” distance, but it’s recommended to stay as far away as you can and to keep your mask on, especially indoors.


Ask An Expert
Go to Top