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Personal Protective Equipment - Mask Considerations When Caring for Known or Suspected COVID-19 Patients

Is it acceptable to wear a facemask when caring for a known or suspected COVID-19 patient ?

Any examples are for illustrative purposes only.

Based on the report from the first 55,924 cases of COVID-19 in China and CDC: What Healthcare Personnel Should Know about Caring for Patients with Confirmed or Possible COVID-19 Infection, facemasks^ are an acceptable alternative to respirators^^ when caring for a person with known or suspected COVID-19, except when participating in aerosol generating procedures (e.g. endotracheal intubation, suctioning of the respiratory tract [if not using in-line suction catheters], and bronchoscopy)..
 
^Facemask(e.g., surgical or procedural mask):  A facemask is a loose-fitting disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth/nose of wearer and potential contaminants in the environment
 
^^Respirators  A respirator is a personal protective device that is worn on the face, covers at least the nose and the mouth, and is used to reduce the wearer's risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particle (e.g. dust and infectious agent(s).  Types of respirators include N95s, elastomeric filtering facepiece, and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs)

Additional Resources
U.S. Department of Labor Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing in Healthcare during COVID-19 Outbreak
Manual: Critical Access Hospital
Chapter: Infection Prevention and Control IC
Last reviewed by Standards Interpretation: December 22, 2021 Represents the most recent date that the FAQ was reviewed (e.g. annual review).
First published date: March 24, 2020 This Standards FAQ was first published on this date.
This page was last updated on December 22, 2021 with update notes of: Review only, FAQ is current Types of changes and an explanation of change type: Editorial changes only: Format changes only. No changes to content. | Review only, FAQ is current: Periodic review completed, no changes to content. | Reflects new or updated requirements: Changes represent new or revised requirements.

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