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Wearing Is Caring: Face Masks at UC San Diego Health Facilities

Along with social distancing and frequent hand washing, masks are a simple, yet effective, way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Although face mask requirements have changed in San Diego County as of June 15, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) states that face masks are still required in health care settings. To protect our patients and health care workers, we require the use of face coverings in all our facilities. Masks must be worn at all times in public areas and in patient rooms at our hospitals, clinics and labs — even if you've been vaccinated.

  • Visitors and patients may wear their own cloth mask if it is clean and well-fitting.
  • Your nose, mouth and chin should be covered.
  • The following are not permitted as face coverings: neck gaiters, bandanas, masks with exhalation valves, clear shield-like face masks, face shields. 
  • If you don’t have a face mask or yours does not fit properly, we will provide one for you.

How to Safely Put On and Remove Face Masks

  • Clean/sanitize your hands before putting on a mask and after touching it.
  • Place the mask on your face and pull the straps behind your ears.
  • Expand the mask so that it covers your mouth, nose and chin. It should be loose enough to allow you to breathe but still secure enough to stay in place.
  • Make sure you can talk easily and that the mask doesn’t irritate you, so you are not tempted to touch it or pull it out of place, which would reduce its effectiveness.
  • If you touch the front of the mask, immediately sanitize your hands.
  • To remove your used mask, hold only the ear loops/straps.
  • Dispose of the mask in a trash can, or store and wash it if it’s a reusable face covering. View more tips on wearing masks.

Tips for using hospital-provided surgical masks:

  • Surgical masks must be worn with the blue side facing out.
  • Pinch the metal edge of the mask so it presses gently on your nose bridge.
  • Crossing the ear loops to create a circle for your ears to go in may help the mask fit better and decrease fogging for those who wear glasses.

FAQs on Wearing Face Masks

Research shows masks can prevent the transmission of the virus and help save lives. You can show that you care about your health with a simple piece of fabric. Here are some frequently asked questions about when and how to properly use a face covering.

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What are the different types of masks?

A surgical mask, also called a medical mask, is a loose-fitting disposable mask that filters out large particles in the air.

An N95 mask, which is a type of respirator, offers more protection than a surgical mask does because it can filter out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales. They are worn by health care providers, who must be trained on proper fitting and usage in the workplace.

Cloth masks are easy to find and can be washed and reused. Face coverings can be made of common materials like cotton. Masks can include homemade coverings, according to San Diego County Public Health Services.

You can buy or make your own mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has instructions on DIY cloth face coverings, including no-sew masks, and how to store and clean homemade masks.

When do I need to wear a mask?

As of June 15, 2021, California requires face masks for:

  • Unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses
  • Everyone when indoors in K-12 schools, childcare and other youth settings
  • Health care settings
  • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers
  • Public transit

For the latest information on requirements for face masks, please see the California Department of Public Health's guidance for face coverings.

My mask keeps moving up toward my eyes; how do I fix this?

If this happens, pull on the bottom of the mask; do not put your fingers by your eyes to move it down. Always wash or sanitize your hands before placing your hands close to your eyes. 

How often do I need to wash a reusable mask?

Keep your reusable cloth mask or face cover clean by regularly washing it with soap and water by hand or in the washing machine. View detailed instructions on how to store and wash your mask.

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