Responding to COVID-19
What You Need to Know About Masks
Wearing a face mask helps limit the spread of COVID-19 and protects those around you. Even a simple cloth mask can be effective at keeping your germs away from others. Here’s what you need to know and understand about wearing a face mask when you visit UT Southwestern, as well as in your everyday life.
Wearing Masks at UT Southwestern
When entering any of our locations, all visitors age 2 or older are required to wear a clean mask or a cloth face covering that meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines:
- Fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Is secured with ties or ear loops
- Includes multiple layers of fabric
- Allows for breathing without restriction
- Is able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Employees, patients, and visitors are asked to put on their masks before entering buildings to help protect themselves and others.
If a visitor doesn’t have a cloth face covering or mask, we will provide one; however, given national shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), we ask for everyone’s help in preserving our supply for the protection of our workforce providing critical COVID-19 care.
Inpatients may remove their mask when they are in their own patient room but must wear a mask when in hallways or other public spaces.
Across campus, masks are required in all outdoor spaces, even if it's possible to maintain social distance. Employees are expected to carry a mask with them at all times.
How to Wear a Mask the Right Way
Here are some tips to make sure you’re wearing your mask safely and effectively:
- Before you pick up your mask, wash your hands with soap and water.
- Avoid touching the fabric or paper – use the ear loops or ties instead.
- Make sure the mask fully covers both your nose and mouth. Ideally, it should go under your chin and across the bridge of your nose.
- You may need to pull on the ear loops or ties to ensure a snug fit. There should be no gaps on the side of your face.
- When you remove your mask, be careful not to touch the front of the mask or your face.
- Wash your hands after taking off the mask.
- If you’re using a cloth mask, wash and dry it every day.
Types of Masks
Both cloth masks and surgical masks may be used by patients and visitors at UT Southwestern locations.
Cloth face coverings or masks: Cloth face coverings and cloth masks should have more than one layer of fabric but otherwise are not required to meet any existing standards for infection prevention or control. The use of cloth face coverings and masks is intended to provide a comfortable physical barrier to prevent transmission of any respiratory droplets. Cloth masks may not have an exhalation valve.
Medical masks: Also called surgical, isolation, or procedure masks, these are made out of a paper material and come with elastic ear loops. They are an ideal physical barrier for patient encounters and exams, visualizations, or dry, short procedures that do not produce fluid or spray.
N95 respirator masks: These masks protect medical workers who come into contact with high doses of the virus and should be reserved for health care workers.