#MaskUpPHL: Why, When, and How to Use a Mask

By Administrator RSS Wed, May 27, 2020

Updated June 29, 2020 10:00 a.m.
On Friday, June 26, 2020, Mayor Kenney signed a Mandatory Mask Order, which requires masks to be worn in any indoor public spaces and outdoors if there is less than six feet between people from different households.


Original blog post by Hans Kellner, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, posted on May 12, 2020


In addition to staying at home, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands thoroughly, wearing a mask in public is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others around you from COVID-19. Many people are making their own masks for themselves and others with what they have available at home. Here are some tips to make sure you know why, when, and how to properly use a mask.


Why wear a mask
You can transmit COVID-19 coronavirus even if you don’t feel sick. Some people can be contagious without even knowing that they have COVID-19. Remember that washing hands and keeping away from others are still important even though you are wearing a mask.


When to use a mask

  • If you need to go to buy food or medicines
  • If you have to go to work (essential workers)
  • If you live or work in a group setting (shelter, group home)
  • If you ride public transportation or use a ride share service

Do not wear a mask in order to hang out with friends, family, or neighbors. Wearing a mask does not excuse you from practicing social distancing.


When you do not need a mask:

  • You don’t need a mask to go for a walk, run, or bike ride alone or with someone you live with if and only if you stay at least 6 feet from others. Read our blog on top tips for exercising safely at our Parks and Recreation sites.
  • Choose places to exercise where you have room to keep your distance.
  • Wear a gaiter or bandana around your neck and pull it up over your mouth and nose if you will be passing someone else and cannot maintain distance.
  • You don’t need to wear a mask if you are driving alone. But bring one along for when you reach your destination.
  • You don’t need a mask when eating and drinking. Make sure to keep your distance from co-workers and others if you are eating in a public place.


How to use a mask

  • Use cloth face coverings, not surgical masks or N95 respirators.
  • Health care providers are experiencing serious shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), like N95 respirators. Fill out this form if you have PPE to donate.
  • You can make a mask at home with common items you already have.
  • Make sure your mask fits well around the mouth and nose without any gaps.
  • Use 2-3 layers of close-fitting fabric.
  • Choose a mask that is comfortable enough for you to keep it on whenever you are in public places. Make sure you can breathe easily while wearing it.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after removing or adjusting the mask.
  • Wash your mask in the regular laundry daily and whenever wet or soiled.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Face shields can be worn with cloth masks for those who want additional protection or instead of cloth masks for those who are uncomfortable breathing in a mask.


You can even have a little fun with your mask or face-covering! Show your personality with your favorite color (Eagles green) or a pattern that you like, and snap a pic to encourage your friends and family to wear their mask too. For mask graphics that you can share on social media, view our Facebook photo albums.


Remember: My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. If both people interacting are wearing masks and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance, you reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19. Do your part and help stop the spread: wear a mask!


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