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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.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) states that face masks are required for everyone 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: You may wear your own surgical or KN95 mask if it is clean and well-fitting. If you do not have one, we'll supply a surgical mask.
  • Your nose, mouth and chin should be covered.
  • The following are not permitted as face coverings: cloth masks, 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 Surgical or KN95 Masks

  • Surgical masks must be worn with the blue side facing out.
  • Pinch the top edge of your surgical or KN95 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, when worn correctly and consistently, can prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus and help save lives. You can show that you care about your health and that of others by wearing a mask. 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 procedure mask, is a disposable mask that filters out large particles in the air.

KN95 and N95 filtering masks are a type of respirator. They offer more protection because when you inhale, they can filter out both small and large particles. These masks provide a higher level of protection than cloth or surgical masks.

Cloth masks, made from tightly woven, breathable fabric, need to have multiple layers to increase protection.

Read CDC guidelines about different types of masks and improve how your mask protects you.

When do I need to wear a mask?

California requires face masks for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, when they are in certain high-risk areas like health care settings, including all UC San Diego Health facilities and long-term care facilities.

For the latest information on requirements and strong recommendations for wearing face masks, please see guidance from the California Department of Public Health and San Diego County.

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. Learn how to wear masks correctly.

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