Face Mask Guidelines

Please check this page for the latest masking updates before arriving at any of our clinics and hospitals.

UC San Diego Health masking protocols for patients and visitors are in accordance with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Current tier: GREEN (masks not required)

  • Masks are not required for most patients and visitors based on the low prevalence of respiratory illness reported across our organization and facilities.
  • Masks are still required for some patients and visitors — please review the full masking guidelines below.
  • UC San Diego Health requires our team members to wear masks when providing direct, face-to-face care to immunocompromised patients and during any other patient interactions when the patient requests it.

About Masking Procedures and Tiers

For patients and visitors: Our masking policy is based on the prevalence of respiratory illness — low, medium or high — reported across our organization and facilities.

  1. Low prevalence = Green tier (masks not required)
  2. Medium prevalence = Yellow tier (masks strongly recommended)
  3. High prevalence = Red tier (masks required)

Masks Always Required in Some Cases 

Please note we still require masks for some patients and visitors:

  • Have just been diagnosed with a respiratory infectious illness that requires masking
  • Are suspected to have an infectious respiratory illness (as a precaution to prevent infection)
  • Are experiencing respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, runny nose, and/or sore throat) that are consistent with an infectious illness
  • Have been advised by the patient's medical team to wear a face mask, particularly those who are immunocompromised or are taking precautions because of reduced immunity
  • Have been requested by a patient to wear a mask

We strongly recommend that you continue masking in our facilities if you are at high risk of complications from respiratory illnesses because of underlying conditions.

View Visitor Information

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 Masks

  • Surgical masks must be worn with the blue side facing out.
  • Pinch the top edge of your surgical 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 Face Masks