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Bay Area Public Health Departments Recommend Non-Medical Face Coverings During Essential Outings

Covering mouth and nose with cloth coverings may reduce transmission when combined with hand washing and reducing person-to-person contacts.

For Immediate Release

April 2, 2020

Santa Clara County, CA – The Santa Clara County Public Health Department, along with Bay Area health officials, is recommending that residents cover their nose and mouth when leaving home for essential activities, such as grocery shopping, doctor appointments, and going to the bank. This recommendation follows guidance recently issued by the California Department of Public Health.

Face coverings should not be medical masks or other similar products but include any type of breathable material that will cover nose and mouth. Medical masks are in short supply and need to be reserved for health care personnel. Examples of recommended coverings include bandanas and home-sewn fabric coverings.

Medical masks, such as N-95 and surgical masks, are strongly discouraged for general use. Due to the global demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), there is a severe shortage of PPE across the state. Local officials are prioritizing acquisitions of PPE for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Santa Clara County Public Health asks residents to refrain from purchasing PPE for their own use and to utilize homemade face coverings instead. 

“Wearing a face covering is an additional strategy to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. We know that a person can spread the virus before they develop symptoms, or even if they never develop symptoms.” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer and Public Health Director. “Face coverings are not a substitute for sheltering in place, frequent handwashing, and social distancing, but they do provide an additional layer of prevention when engaging in essential activities.”

This new recommendation is based on developing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that some people may be infectious for a few days prior to symptoms begin or may be infectious and never develop symptoms. Face coverings will help those people from unknowingly infecting other while conducting essential activities.

Strictly following the order to shelter in place and reducing the number of people with whom we come in contact continues to be the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Visit the County of Santa Clara COVID-19 website for frequent updates.​​

Last updated: 4/14/2020 5:38 PM