Updated: April 07, 2020
As more information is released, there is increasing evidence that the loss of smell/taste is an indicator of COVID-19. We will explore this in future posts.
As a reminder: surgical-style masks and respirator masks should be reserved for healthcare professionals.
If you mandate mask wearing for businesses, you will need to ensure that you are aligned with OSHA classifications. Consider mask-wearing from an “administrative control” perspective as opposed to “personal protective equipment (PPE).”
Wearing a mask is to protect others (not necessarily yourself) by limiting droplet spread. Cloth masks and homemade masks prevent droplet spreads from yourself to others, which protects others from your respiratory droplets.
Wearing a mask should not replace social distancing. Cloth masks such as those now recommended by CDC are not respirators and don’t protect against aerosols.
To make your own mask, follow the CDC’s guidelines here:
Today we talk about correct mask donning, doffing, disinfecting, and disposal.
the Food Industry
Correct Mask Donning, Doffing, Disinfecting, and Disposal.
While not explicitly recommending the wearing of masks by the food industry, in its newest COVID-19 FAQs, the FDA references the CDC’s recommendation for the voluntary use of simple cloth face coverings “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” FDA then states that workers on farms and in food production, processing, and retail settings who choose to wear masks should maintain the masks according to FDA’s Model Food Code and launder the masks, daily.
While FDA stops short of specifically endorsing face mask use, TAG is recommending the use of non-medical masks or respirators (reserving those for healthcare workers) in facilities and any time that six-foot social distancing cannot be implemented. In addition, masks must be properly taken care of to protect both workers and their families.
Following is a summary of proper donning, doffing, decontaminating, and disposing of masks, as explained by Dr. Virginia Dato, a physician board-certified in public health and general preventive medicine, in a recent CDC podcast.
A few important things to remember:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before putting on a mask and before removing a mask. Do wash your hands after removing a mask, too!
If you are using a re-usable mask or face-covering, please make note of which side was facing outwards and which side was against your mouth.
Donning (putting on) a mask. If you are using a brand-new mask, you must check and adjust fit before entering a risk area. To be effective, a mask needs to fit tightly against the face. If the mask is not fitted tightly, it will not serve its full protective purpose. If you do not fit the mask and later discover the mask is leaking (while in the risk environment) you will adjust the mask by touching your face and potentially eyes, thus creating more risk! For a true fit test, you also have to move around to ensure that that mask continues to fit well while moving and working.
To correctly don a mask: if the mask has ties, tie the top tie securely on the crown of your head and secure the bottom tie around the base of your neck. If the mask has loops, hook the loops around your ears. Physically move yourself around and make sure there is no air blowing in from around the mask. If there is air, adjust the mask until air no longer comes in.
Doffing (taking off). If this mask really helped and protected you from the virus, then the virus is on the front of the mask. The mask itself, was a filter. Dato explains, “Think about a colander or anything else that you use to filter material, it’s got all the gunk in it. So, you don’t want to be touching the front of it and then taking off your mask with your hands and then picking up your food and eating it. You’re essentially giving yourself a high dose of virus.”
To correctly doff (remove) a mask, carefully untie it or unhook it from your ears, and pull it away from your face without touching the front. If you are taking it off to eat during break and need to re-wear it afterward, don it without touching the front. Always wash your hands immediately after putting the mask back on and avoid touching your face.
Disinfecting. Once the mask is off, it can be laundered in a washing machine or boiling water. If you are taking it home from work, do not just throw it loose in a bag or backpack. Rather, the California Department of Public Health recommends that you store the mask in a separate bag until it can be laundered. If the bag is a one-time use bag, please discard it. If the bag is a reusable bag, then the bag should also be washed.
Disposal. If you are using a disposable mask that will not be reused or sterilized, throw the mask immediately into garbage. As Dato said, “It doesn’t go anywhere that anyone is going to touch it. It’s not sitting around on the table where your child can come up to it, play with it, and pretend it’s their Halloween mask.”
Listen to (or read a transcript of) the full podcast at CDC, which also discusses making a simple mask.
Everyone should practice social distancing (more specifically, physical distancing), not only those who are ill or at higher-risk (e.g. older individuals, pre-existing conditions) but also among healthy individuals so we may "flatten the curve".
Please feel free to use this free poster at your establishment. Please email us (email@example.com) for a copy of this poster (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese - simplified, traditional are available).
As of April 07, 2020 (12:12 ET), there are over 1,360,000 cases (>76,000 deaths) worldwide.
Due to the increasing number of cases in the United States, TAG will move from reporting counts per country to focusing on the United States, please see here for the data. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
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