From the Trumbull Health Department: GUIDANCE REGARDING THE MANDATORY USE OF FACE MASKS TO PROTECT AGAINST COVID-19 IN FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS
April 17, 2020
To: Food Establishments Owners/Operators
On April 3rd, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance for the public regarding the use of face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering while in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This is especially true in food service and grocery store settings where food workers are not able to maintain social distancing adequately and have direct contact with food.
In order to further protect the public and prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective April 20, 2020, the Trumbull Health Department is requiring all food establishments and grocery store employees preparing, or handling foods to wear some type of face mask. The use of a face mask not only provides added protection to staff, but also to customers. Taking extra precautions and following CDC guidance regarding face masks ensures customers that their health and safety is a priority. It is important to remember that the use of a face mask does not change the fact that sick individuals must not report to work.
COVID-19 is believed to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person in respiratory droplets from someone who is infected. People who are infected often have symptoms of illness, including fever and cough. Spread may also occur when people are asymptomatic, when they have few symptoms, or before they develop symptoms. By wearing a cloth face covering in public, you are less likely to get these droplets on a surface in front of you and can therefore reduce the spread of disease. CDC guidance dictates that cloth masks can serve as a barrier and are primarily meant to prevent the spread of disease from the wearer to others, including food service employees preparing or handling foods.
These cloth face coverings are not useful during prolonged close interactions involving potentially sick people, nor do they provide universal protection against COVID-19. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, it was found that wearing masks alone was 68% effective against prevention of the virus while the implementation of proper handwashing and adequate personal protective equipment was found to be 91% effective. If instituted properly alongside additional preventative measures, cloth face coverings can help to limit the spread of disease. It remains imperative that we all continue to adhere to everyday preventative measures in order to properly protect ourselves and those around us from spreading the virus. Some of these protective measures include, but are not limited to:
• Frequent hand washing (with soap and water thoroughly for 20 seconds at a time)
• Not touching your face (average person touches their face 23 times per minute)
• Social distancing (6 feet apart)
• Cleaning commonly touched surfaces (even your cellphone)
• Maintaining proper hygiene (cough or sneeze into your sleeve, etc.)
• Staying home as often as possible (do NOT put yourselves or members of the public at risk)
Cloth face coverings can be made from common household items or made at home from low cost materials. The CDC provides some essential guidance for creating, donning, and cleaning these face coverings. Some important aspects include, but are not limited to:
Cloth face coverings should:
• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
• Be secured with ties or ear loops
• Include multiple layers of fabric
• Allow for breathing without restriction
• Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
They should be routinely washed depending on frequency of use. A washing machine should suffice in adequately washing a face covering. When donning or doffing a face covering, individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth and make sure to wash hands thoroughly before and after application. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
It is important to note that the cloth face coverings described by the CDC are NOT surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are being reserved for first responders and medical personnel to help protect them from contracting and spreading the virus.
Specific guidance on how to fashion a cloth facemask can be found on the CDC website. Please visit the below resources for additional guidance or contact us for more information.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Luci Bango, MPH/REHS/RS
Trumbull Director of Health