Published: April 6, 2020 at 8:00 PM
The Health Officer
recommends that health care workers, first responders, and staff at facilities
providing patient care wear surgical masks while on duty and engaging in
activities that involve close proximity to the general public, co-workers, and
patients. The Health Officer recommends such masks be provided based on any
internal policies of the health care worker/first responder’s employer. “Health
care workers” includes those who deliver patient care and services either
directly as doctors and nurses or indirectly as aids, helpers, laboratory
technicians, and all non-clinical staff who interface with the public,
co-workers, or clinical staff in a medical setting. “First responders” includes persons who provide
24/7 emergency response, first aid care, or other medically related assistance
either in the course of the person’s occupational duties or as a volunteer,
such as peace officers, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, rescue
workers, certain social workers, and certain animal control officers.
Surgical masks do
not need to be changed on a daily basis. They can be used for up to one week,
unless soiled, torn, unable to cover mouth/nose, or otherwise compromised.
Staff at residential
care facilities, assisted living facilities, and other congregate living
facilities for adults or minors that do not provide medical care should
follow the guidance for face coverings for the general public.
Health Officer Guidance on Face Coverings for General Public
in All Age Groups can be found here: https://socoemergency.org/health-officer-guidance-on-face-coverings-for-general-public-in-all-age-groups/
This guidance applies
to use of masks in circumstances in which full Personal Protective Equipment
(PPE) is not required. It is not intended to replace any existing standards
or guidance for when or how PPE is to be used.
Information on the
spread of COVID19 suggests a need to change best practices guidance on the use
of surgical masks by frontline healthcare workers and first responders. There
may be a benefit to the public health, as well as to the health of their
patients and co-workers, if these workers wear a mask while on duty and
engaging in activities which involve close proximity to other individuals. The
Health Officer understands there may be resource limitations in implementing
this guidance. The Health Officer nonetheless recommends that these critical
workers be equipped with surgical masks to the extent they are available.
This guidance is not
intended for healthcare workers and first responders who have any symptoms of
COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or for those who have been advised
that they are ill or may be ill with COVID-19.
If you are ill, you must stay home unless seeking medical care.
The Health Officer
will continue to closely follow any changes on this topic and may update this
guidance in response to any state and federal public health authorities’
Dr. Sundari R. Mase,
Health Officer of the County of Sonoma