Updated May 23, 2020
If you need to go out, wear a cloth face covering whenever you cannot keep 6 feet from others. For example, in a store, on a crowded sidewalk or on public transit.
Wearing a face covering helps to protect your health and the health of those around you.
Cloth face coverings are NOT a replacement for physical distancing.
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Keep 6 feet between you and others in public
- Don’t touch your face
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Wash your hands
- If you are sick, stay home and away from others to protect them
Children under 2 years old should not wear face coverings.
Employees, contractors and volunteers in Oregon are now required to wear a face covering at work. A business can also require customers to wear one to protect employees.
Remember, some people can't wear a face covering due to a health condition, age or ability. Face covering requirements do not apply in these cases. You must not discriminate against those who can’t wear one.
If you have a concern about your employer and the use of face coverings, call the Oregon Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at 800-922-2689.
Multnomah County does not tolerate discrimination
Violence and discrimination are a daily experience for people who are Black, indigenous and people of color. 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 stay healthy and save lives. Multnomah County does not tolerate discrimination or violence toward individuals because of their race, ethnicity or identity.
How to use 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 CDC recommends children under 2 or anyone who can’t remove the covering themselves do not wear face coverings.
The tighter the weave and the thicker the cloth, the better it 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.
- 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.
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.
- KN95 respirators cannot be washed. Use masks once and then throw away.
Who Shouldn’t Wear a Face Covering
Remember, some people can't wear a face covering due to a health condition, age or ability.
Children under 2 years old should not wear face coverings, or anyone who can’t remove the covering themselves.
Discrimination Is Against the Law
Everyone deserves respect, whether they wear a face covering or not.
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 in our current environment. 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 of their race, ethnicity, or identity.
Multnomah County is accepting donations of both cloth face coverings and medical masks.