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Why, Where, and How to Wear Face Masks in Public

Updated: May 19, 2020

From Councilwoman Suzie Price’s Office

With COVID-19 continuing and we learn more information on its spread, many people are choosing to wear face coverings. Although the City is not requiring face coverings outdoors in public, the City is requiring shoppers to wear face masks in stores. Also, the CDC Now Recommends Face Masks.


In light of this, our Long Beach Health and Human Services Department released guidance on the CDC recommendation for individuals wearing face coverings to protect against COVID-19 when leaving their homes to participate in essential activities.

Why wear a face cover?

Recent information has indicated that covering your nose and mouth can slow the spread of COVID-19 because:

  • Individuals can be contagious before the onset of symptoms. You may be contagious and do not know it. If you have covered your nose and mouth, it can limit the spread of COVID-19.

  • We touch our faceless when our face is covered. Touching your face after touching something contaminated with COVID-19 increases your chances of getting sick with COVID-19.

What is a cloth face covering?

A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

How well do cloth face coverings work to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

There is limited evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Their primary role is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing and washing hands and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions.


Why is this guidance on face-covering coming out now?

We are learning that individuals may be contagious and spread COVID-19 without their knowledge, even if they do not have symptoms. This new information suggests that a face cover may protect others from infection. Wearing a face cover may help prevent the spread of droplets that might be infectious.

When should I wear a cloth face covering?

You may choose to wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth when you must be in public for essential activities, such as shopping at the grocery store. Wearing a cloth face-covering does not eliminate the need to physically distance yourself from others and to wash your hands frequently.

What are my face covering options?