Here is the current CDC guidance on face mask use. CDC recommendations do not replace federal requirements still in place for masking in certain health care facilities.
Where are face coverings required?
- Any child under the age of two (2) must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
- Long-Term Care/Hospitals/Certain Medical facilities: Face coverings are required of staff, vendors contractors and visitors to these facilities regardless of vaccination status, by any facility regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
CMS facilities in Delaware include the following: ambulatory surgical centers, hospices, programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly, hospitals, long term care facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, home health agencies, clinics (rehabilitation agencies, and public health agencies as providers of outpatient physical therapy and speech-language pathology services), home infusion therapy suppliers, rural health clinics/federally qualified health centers and end-stage renal disease facilities.
Although Delaware does not have any psychiatric residential treatment facilities, comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities, critical access hospitals, and community mental health centers which meet the CMS facility definition in-state, residents accessing these services in other states should be aware that those facilities would follow CMS guidance.
Please note, the mask guidance is recommended for everyone in a health care setting, however an independent medical office has the right to implement its own policies and procedures regarding masks. Some medical offices have chosen to continue requiring masks as a precautionary measure while others have chosen to discontinue use. Medical offices within hospital boundaries or associated with a hospital, including in medical parks, are still required to abide by the mask requirement for CMS facilities. If you are unsure about the requirement for a facility you are planning to visit, please contact them directly.
Unvaccinated individuals and children ages 2 and up not eligible for the vaccine should continue to wear face coverings.
- A “face covering” means a type of mask or respirator recommended by CDC. Guidance available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html.
What masks offer the best protection?
- For your best level of protection, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well, is most comfortable for you and that you will wear consistently every time.
- Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.
What Should I Know About Respirators?
- While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection.
- If a respirator is worn properly and can be used for extended periods, individuals may opt for the increased protection against COVID-19.
- Some respirators may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others.
- A mask or respirator will be less effective if it fits poorly or if you wear it improperly or take it off frequently
- A well-fitting mask may be better than a poor-fitting respirator. Some respirators may be less comfortable leading to less correct use.
- It is important for respirators to form a seal to the face to work properly. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Gaps can be caused by choosing the wrong size or type of respirator or when a respirator is worn with facial hair.
- High quality respirators are important if you are older, immunocompromised, not up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, or in higher risk situations
- For a list of FDA-approved masks visit https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/n95list1-h.html
- NIOSH and OSHA have developed a video and factsheet demonstrating how to determine if the respirator fits properly (user seal check) and how to properly put on and take off a respirator.
- CDC: Information for fully vaccinated individuals – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- CDC: Use of Masks to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Get More COVID Data
For more data on Delaware COVID cases, testing and outcomes, including demographic breakdowns, go to My Healthy Community