The do’s and don’ts of wearing a cloth face covering

  • Tue May 26th, 2020 1:30am
  • News

Submitted by Washington State Department of Health

Although there is currently no statewide requirement to wear face coverings, San Juan County Public Health requires the public to wear cloth face coverings in public places as of May 25. This seems like a good time to review the Do’s and Don’ts of wearing cloth face coverings.

DO cover your face with a couple layers of cloth while in public places.

DO wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put your mask on and after you take it off.

DO wash your cloth face-covering in a washing machine after a day’s use.

DO take a cloth face covering with you if you are hiking or visiting a park. Although you do not need to wear one outside, you may find that you need to come within 6 feet of someone else on a trail. At that point, put your cloth face covering on, say hello, and carry on.

DO make sure the cloth face-covering covers both your mouth and nose.

DON’T wear surgical-grade masks or N95 respirators. We need to reserve those for health care and other frontline workers.

DON’T think that wearing cloth face masks means we can gather in large groups of people. For most of the state, all gatherings are prohibited. For the counties that are in Phase 2, all gatherings of more than 5 people outside your household are prohibited.

DON’T think that wearing a cloth face mask makes it safe to come within six feet of other people. At best, a cloth face covering is just one added level of precaution. It doesn’t really help unless we are also washing our hands, staying home when we are sick, and practicing physical distancing.

DON’T wear a cloth face covering while exercising outdoors. It’s not dangerous, just annoying and not necessary.

DON’T put a cloth face covering on a child under age 2 or on a person with a disability that keeps them from being able to remove it.

DON’T touch your cloth face-covering after you put it on. Try not to touch your face at all.

DON’T worry that a cloth face-covering might restrict your oxygen. It’s not airtight. If you ever feel like you’re having trouble breathing, remove the cloth face covering and sit down. If the feeling persists, call 911.

Practice compassion. Remember, wearing a cloth face covering is an act of compassion. We cover our faces to protect others. There is no public health reason to wear a cloth face covering if you are alone in your car, in your own home, or around members of your own household. (Unless you just want to because it’s comfortable and looks awesome. That’s cool.)

More information

Information changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week.