San Miguel County Public Health officials are reminding everyone of the importance of wearing facemasks when outside of their homes. Research shows that even people who have no symptoms can spread COVID-19.

“Wearing a facemask protects both you and others. By covering your mouth and nose you prevent the spread of droplets that carry COVID,” said Dr. Sharon Grundy, county medical officer.

It is especially important for vulnerable individuals to wear facial coverings in public places. It is not necessary to keep facemasks on when engaging in outdoor activities while maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet.

“If you’re going for a walk or a run and have enough space between others, you do not need to keep your mask on,” public health director Grace Franklin said. “But if you’re hiking a single track and passing people with minimal clearance, wear your mask.”

Studies show on average a person touches their face 250 times per day. Health officials encourage people to avoid touching their faces to help prevent infection.

Current public health orders mandate:

  • All retail employers (critical and non-critical) must provide appropriate face coverings (and gloves, if applicable) to employees.
  • Employees without face coverings should not perform tasks that require engagement with the public or coworkers.
  • Businesses should encourage customers to use facial coverings when on business premises.
  • Services with close personal contact such as hairdressers and massage therapists must wear face coverings and gloves at all times, or, if wearing gloves is not appropriate, implement meticulous hand-washing.
  • Limited health care settings such as physical therapists must wear medical-grade masks and gloves at all times. Administrative personnel must wear a face covering (cloth, if necessary) and may be removed when physical distancing is greater than six feet (such as working in a private office).

Masks should be clean and in good repair; fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face; be secure; include multiple layers of fabric; allow for breathing without restriction; and be able to be laundered frequently, unless disposable. Masks should not have anything hanging off the facial covering that would create a food safety hazard; holes or tears; or be shared with others.

Other tips:

  • Store your masks with personal items
  • Wash your hands before and after putting a facial covering in place
  • Do not touch the facial covering again until you remove it
  • Masks should be positioned so that there is no need to adjust or otherwise touch the face frequently
  • If your mask becomes soiled or hard to breathe through, you should remove and not wear again until laundered
  • Remove your mask to eat and drink, and if it is still in good repair, you may continue to use it
  • Children under 2 years of age should not wear masks

“Please, wear your facemask not only to protect yourself, but for the sake of your loved ones, your neighbors and your community,” Franklin said.