Face Coverings




DO YOUR PART to slow the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a novel virus that spreads through respiratory droplets that are coughed, sneezed, or sprayed (when talking, shouting, etc.), sometimes before the person infected has any symptoms of illness (pre-symptomatic) and also when the infected person has no symptoms at all (asymptomatic). Because this is a new virus, medical experts around the world are still learning the most effective ways to prevent its transmission. To date, there is significant research that shows wearing a cloth face covering can provide some protection to both the individual wearing it as well as others around them.

#MaskUpPimaCounty

Everyone wears their mask to protect someone — whether it’s your abuela, your granddad, an aunt, a mommy-to-be or the strangers in line at the grocery store. Do your part – mask up and share who you mask for on social media. Visit our #MaskUpPimaCounty webpage to download your poster and get started.


Face Mask Mandate

The Pima County Board of Supervisors June 19 issued a countywide public health protection resolution on requiring the wearing of face coverings when in public if 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. The rule is effective immediately and applies to everyone over the age of 5. Read the resolution.

List of establishments that were found to be out of compliance with Resolution 2020-49 requiring face masks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

See the frequently asked questions related to Resolution 2020-49.

Pima County Health Department Director Theresa Cullen demonstrates the proper way to wear various face mask options. (Video)



More about face coverings

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Should Not Wear a Face Cover?

  • Children under age 2.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

Where can I get a face covering?

Many retailers are selling cloth face covers now and you can even make your own. Below are some design patters to help you get started. The State of Arizona is offering free cloth masks to vulnerable Arizonans. 


DIY Design Patterns

Sewn Cloth No-Sew Cut T-Shirt No-Sew Bandana

How should I care for a cloth face covering?

It’s a good idea to wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Have a bag or bin to keep cloth face coverings in until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.

Discard cloth face coverings that:

  • No longer cover the nose and mouth
  • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • Cannot stay on the face
  • Have holes or tears in the fabric

What is the proper way to wear a cloth face covering?

  • Wash your hands before putting it on.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth - the top should sit on the bridge of your nose and the bottom should rest under your chin.
  • It should fit snugly against your face with no gaps or slipping down.
  • You should be able to breathe easily.
  • Reusable face covers should be washed with detergent or soap every night and allowed to dry completely before wearing again.

If you find yourself constantly adjusting your face cover, alter it or get a new one to reduce the number of times you touch your face.


Where's the scientific evidence? 

There is scientific evidence to suggest that 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, washing hands, and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions.

A June 11, 2020 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded: “…wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Below is additional research that supports the use of face coverings:
Facemask Instructions 1 Facemask Instructions 2

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.

When should I wear a face covering?

You should wear face coverings when in public places, particularly when those locations are indoors or in other areas where physical distancing is not possible.

Face Cover Poll Results

On June 24, 2020, the Pima County Health Department launched a two-day social media poll to gauge the reasons why people don't wear a face mask after the June 19 face mask mandate issued by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Below are the results along with comments from PCHD Director Dr. Theresa Cullen to address some of the most common reasons. 

Total number of votes: 998

To the 84% who voted for discomfort: 
Dr. Cullen: I absolutely understand this complaint. I don’t love wearing face masks in public. It’s really hot out which doesn’t make it more comfortable. But wearing a mask is about preventing other people from ending up on a ventilator. And remember, most people who get COVID-19 only get a mild case and do not end up in the hospital at all. 
It will take time for us to adjust to the feeling of something covering our face. If you are touching your face a lot due to the mask, make sure you are washing your hands frequently. 


To the 16% who voted for inconvenience:
Dr. Cullen: This is a new practice for most of us. Even doctors and nurses didn’t usually wear face masks in public. Putting a mask on and taking it off and wearing it in the heat really is a bummer. If you can, keep extras in your car so you don’t have to remember to grab them. The sooner we can integrate face masks into our “going out” or “leaving the house” routine, the better for everyone.

Other reasons listed for not wearing a face mask:

"The government can't force me to wear one"
Dr. CullenBut your caring and compassionate nature/better angels can.

"It's unconstitutional"
Dr. Cullen: It's not.

"I doubt masks do anything to slow the spread of the virus"
Dr. CullenMore research is coming out about how effective masks are – and it turns out, they are pretty effective for this virus. Note, they are not effective for all viruses. But worn correctly, they are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially when combined with other measures (like staying 6 feet away from people).

"Wearing one causes me to touch my face more often"
Dr. Cullen: Yes, I believe it. It’s a huge adjustment for most people. There is a reason why we didn’t usually wear face masks! However, it seems that cloth face masks are here to stay for a while. When you create a new habit, it takes mindfulness to stick to it. The best thing to do while you get used to the face mask is to wash your hands frequently and carry a hand sanitizer with you to use.

"I’ve heard masks can… (________)"
  • Cause pneumonia
  • Cause your blood pressure to rise to “stroke” level
  • Trap contaminants
  • Prevent you from expelling carbon dioxide
  • Cause internal damage
  • Breathing recirculated air is harmful
  • Promote weakening of the IgG and IgM
  • Cause hypoxia
Dr. CullenNo. None of these result from wearing a face mask.

"I’ve experienced (_______) from wearing a face mask."
  • Headaches
  • Heat stress
  • Panic/anxiety attacks
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Hyperventilation
Dr. Cullen: Some of these may be related to underlying and/or undiagnosed conditions such as anxiety. Your oxygen levels should not be impacted by a properly fitting cloth face mask. If you are having any of these issues more than once with wearing a face mask, contact your physician to discuss.

" I don't wear a face mask for the following medical reason..."
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Asthma
  • Claustrophobia
  • Psychological issues
  • PTSD
  • COPD
Dr. Cullen: Yes, all of these reasons may mean you should not wear a face mask. In some situations, such as the medical conditions listed above, the risks of wearing a cloth face mask outweigh the benefits. HOWEVER, IF THIS IS THE CASE FOR YOU, PLEASE NOTE THE OTHER PRECAUTIONS YOU SHOULD TAKE TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19:
  1. Stay at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you. 
  2. Try to avoid touching your face. This is the main way coronavirus enters the body – through the mouth, nose, and eyes via the hands. 
  3. Avoid being around other people for more than 15 minutes – if you are running errands, try to do them quickly or use curb-side pick-up options, if available. 
  4. Avoid being around other people who are not wearing a face mask.

Face Mask vs. Face Shield

This poll also brought up the question: "Are face shields a suitable alternative for people who cannot wear face covers?"

Dr. CullenAs of June 26, there is no recommendation or guidance from the CDC that says face shields provide a barrier equal to cloth face masks to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Face shields are intended to protect the wearer from droplets produced by other people. They are usually worn with other Personal Protective Equipment like a surgical mask, gloves and a gown. Face shields are typically used as a substitute for eye goggles.

While face shields may prevent some respiratory droplets from traveling onto other people, there is not enough data to support recommending them as an ideal alternative to face masks. A face shield allows the possibility of droplets to escape underneath or from the sides, whereas a cloth face cover fits snugly around your mouth and nose. 

A cloth face mask and practicing physical distancing remain the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. There have been cases of people spreading the virus before they know they are sick. However, for those who cannot wear a face cover, a face shield is an option.

Follow Us Share this page

Health Department

3950 S. Country Club Road
Ste. 100
Tucson, AZ 85714

(520) 724-7770

Department Home
Department News
Department Directory
Feedback
Meetings
Calendar
Maps
Volunteer

phab logo