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Stopping this pandemic is going to take all our tools
*Infants and children under 2 years of age should not wear a mask. Children ages 2 to 8 should wear a mask only when under adult supervision. See Who should not wear a mask and Special considerations for persons with communication difficulties or certain disabilities for other exceptions.
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can then be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth.
In Los Angeles County, everyone 2 years of age and older must* wear a mask in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, public and private businesses and at outdoor Mega Events, regardless of their vaccination status. They must also wear a mask on all public transit and transit hubs, at all health care settings, correctional facilities, shelters and cooling centers, and schools and day care facilities.
Note that in the workplace, workers must follow the most protective mask requirements as stated by Cal/OSHA and the County Health Officer Order. Certain employees may be exempt from wearing a mask in specific situations provided alternative safety measures are in place. See the Health Officer Order and Best Practices for Businesses webpage for details of workplace requirements.
EVERYONE*, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask:
Note: You are allowed to take off your mask while you are:
*There are some people who should not wear a mask, such as children younger than 2, people with certain medical conditions or disabilities, and people instructed by their medical provider not to wear a mask. Children ages 2 to 8 should wear a mask only when under adult supervision. See Who should not wear a mask and Special considerations for persons with communication difficulties or certain disabilities.
There are many types of masks you can use to protect against getting and spreading COVID-19. Choose a mask:
Another thing to consider when choosing what mask to wear is how much protection you need. If you will be in a place where COVID-19 spreads more easily you should wear your most protective mask, especially if you are at high risk of getting sick from COVID-19. You get more protection from a mask the tighter it fits (seals around your face) and more it filters the air. Examples of how you can get better protection include if you:
See CDC’s Types of Masks and Respirators — Choosing a Mask or Respirator for Different Situations and CDPH's Get the Most Out of Masking and Masks for Kids: Tips and Resources pages.
|Know which Masks Provide the Best Protection Against COVID-19|
Cloth masks (also called reusable masks) work best if they are tight fitting and made of materials that filter out small particles. For extra protection, wear a cloth mask OVER a surgical mask (see Double masking).
Note: Some cloth ("reusable") masks are designed and tested to demonstrate that they perform at a consistent level. These masks are labeled to tell you what standard they meet. The CDC provides a list of commercially available face coverings that meet minimum filtration and breathability requirements (ASTM F3502-21). If purchasing a mask that conforms with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, choose a mask rated as "Level 2" which will provide better filtration than a Level 1 mask.
Also called medical procedure or dental masks, these include various types of loose-fitting disposable masks. Some surgical masks that are intended for medical use are regulated by the FDA.
Note: Some single-use masks are designed and tested to demonstrate that they perform at a consistent level. These masks are labeled to tell you what standard they meet. The CDC provides a list of commercially available face coverings that meet minimum filtration and breathability requirements (ASTM F3502-21). If purchasing a mask that conforms with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, choose a mask rated as "Level 2" which will provide better filtration than a Level 1 mask.
Respirators (such as N95 and KN95)
Respirators are specialized masks that designed to filter out very small particles. There are many types of respirators. N95 and KN95 respirators are disposable respirators that are designed to filter at least 95% of airborne particles. Information on these two types of respirators are below. For more details see the CDC information on Respirators.
Respirators that fit well and provide a tight seal on your face protect you better than a cloth mask on its own or a surgical mask. They may be less comfortable because they filter better and fit more tightly.
To get the best protection from your mask, make sure that it fits well. It is important that whichever type of mask you use:
Ways to make your cloth or surgical mask fit better
Certain types of facial hair, like beards, can make mask fitting difficult. People with beards can trim them, use a mask fitter/brace or double mask.
Tips to check that your mask fits
Wearing two masks or “double masking”
“Double masking” is when a cloth mask worn on top of a surgical mask. This makes the surgical mask fit better and adds extra layer(s) of protection.
How to put on a mask
How to take off a mask
Removing your mask temporarily (e.g., to eat or drink)
TIP! It is recommended to have more than one mask readily available so that a dirty or wet mask can be easily replaced with a clean one. When you are out, carry a spare mask and hand sanitizer. If your mask gets damp or wet, replace it with a clean dry one.
The following people should not wear a mask:
Note: Underlying medical conditions
Most people with underlying medical conditions, including those with asthma can and should wear a mask, unless instructed not to by their doctor. Wearing a mask does not reduce a person’s oxygen supply or cause a build-up of carbon dioxide. If you or someone you care for has an underlying health condition and you have concerns about wearing a mask, talk to your doctor. They will discuss the benefits and potential risks with you.
Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel are an alternative type of mask for people who interact with:
A face shield is a transparent barrier that covers the face and is typically open at the sides and bottom. Face shields are often worn by healthcare workers in addition to medical masks, to protect their eyes from splashes and sprays of body fluids.
A face shield alone cannot be used in place of a mask.
Face shields with drapes
Although they may not work as well as masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a face shield with a drape attached on the bottom edge that is either form fitting under the chin or tucked into a shirt or collar can be used by people who cannot wear a mask due to a disability or medical condition. For more information on face shields plus drape including a photograph see the CDPH Face Shield Frequently Asked Questions.
Do NOT put a plastic face shield on newborns or infants.