Updated October 29, 2020
Face coverings are required in Oregon for everyone age 5 and older, in all indoor public spaces and also outdoors when you cannot keep 6 feet from others.
Kids over 2 years old can also wear a face covering, as long as they can remove it themselves. Children under age 2 should never wear a face covering.
People with a disability or medical condition may request a reasonable accommodation from a business (such as pick-up or delivery) if they are unable to wear a face covering or face shield.
Wearing a face covering helps limit the spread of COVID-19, and helps to protect your health and the health of those around you. Bring one with you whenever you go out.
Cloth face coverings are NOT a replacement for physical distancing.
How to use a cloth face covering
When wearing a cloth face covering, make sure:
- To clean your hands before putting it on, and after touching it or taking if off
- To use the ties or ear loops to put it on and take it off
- Your mouth and nose are fully covered.
- It fits snugly against the sides of the face, with no gaps.
- You don’t have any difficulty breathing
The tighter the weave and the thicker the cloth, the better it will fit your face and provide protection.
Wash after every use with soap and warm water.
Cloth face coverings can be itchy. Don’t reach under it to touch your nose or mouth.
The tighter the weave and the thicker the cloth, the better the face covering will fit your face and provide protection. It shouldn’t be TOO thick, or it will be uncomfortable.
When choosing a face covering, look for:
- Tightly woven, 100% cotton fabrics such as bed sheets, curtains, woven shirts
- At least 2 layers
- Make sure you can breathe through it
- Elastic loops or ties to hold it in place
- A sewn-in, washable metal nose piece, for a snug fit (a plastic coated paper clip works)
Some face coverings also have one or more filter layers made of fabric interfacing. A coffee filter is okay if you can remove it for washing. Do not use HEPA filter materials like vacuum cleaner bags. These may be toxic.
Experiment to find the best style for you. Can you wear elastic ear loops? Or do you prefer ties around your head?
If making your own, use materials already on hand (old sheets, shirts, bandanas, tea towels). Some materials, like ¼” elastic and fabric interfacing, may be hard to find in stores.
Where to get face coverings
You can buy face coverings in stores and online, or make your own. Can’t afford to buy or make one? Check local community organizations to see if they have any to give away.
Community organizations can request hand sanitizer or disposable face coverings on our resource request page. We are not able to provide these directly to individuals or families.
Discrimination is against the law
Everyone deserves respect.
Violence and discrimination are a daily experience for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Racism and racist reactions to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color wearing face coverings is a reality. And yet we know face coverings can help people to stay healthy and save lives.
Multnomah County does not tolerate discrimination or violence toward individuals because of their race, ethnicity or identity. Report discrimination or racist incidents»
If you see people not wearing face coverings
Leave if you feel unsafe. Keep in mind some people can't wear a face covering due to a health condition, age or ability.
Do not call 911. To report concerns or complaints:
- Workplace or businesses (for employees and customers) | Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or 800-922-2689. Available in English and Spanish.
- Restaurants and food service | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Faith communities | COVID19.email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
More About Face Coverings
How face coverings work
Scientists believe coronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19, spread mostly person-to-person through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, sings, or talks.
- Whenever we forcefully exhale, we release droplets
- Someone close to us may inhale these droplets
- The droplets may land on their eyes, nose, or mouth
If these droplets contain COVID-19, then they might get sick.
If you’re wearing a face covering, you will keep your droplets to yourself. If you have COVID-19, you may or may not have symptoms, so it is important for everyone who can to wear a face covering.
A face covering may also protect the person wearing it. If your face covering is made of the right fabrics and worn properly, it may block droplets from entering your nose and mouth and making you sick.
- The general public should not wear medical masks or N95 respirators.
- Health care workers need these medical masks to stay safe and do their jobs.
- Medical masks are in limited supply and we need to make sure these are only for front line health care workers.
Face shields are not a replacement for face coverings. If you wear a face shield, wear a tight-fitting mask underneath.
There are limited situations when a face shield by itself is appropriate, for example while talking with someone who needs to read lips to communicate.
The face shield should wrap around the sides of your face, cover the forehead and extend below the chin.
KN95 respirators are not the same as N95 respirators. KN95 respirators are not certified as medical masks in the United States. Like cloth face coverings, KN95 respirators can protect the wearer and the people they are near, but it is not the same level of protection as a medical mask.
KN95 masks are quite thick. Do not wear while exercising or if you have trouble breathing.
These respirators cannot be washed. Use once then throw away.
Multnomah County is accepting donations of both cloth face coverings and medical masks.