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> COVID19 Prevention Measures: Help Stop the Spread

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING of our community is our top priority. Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) is working closely with community partners to prevent and respond to the evolving novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Masks and Face Coverings

Health AdvisoryFace mask icon -- Use a Face Covering

On July 30, 2021, the Tompkins County Health Department issued a Health Advisory due to the rise in COVID-19 cases during the latter half of July. The Advisory urges everyone to start wearing a mask while indoors and around others. The Advisory states: “Out of an abundance of caution, TCHD is issuing a Health Advisory encouraging all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask while indoors around others.”

Unvaccinated individuals over age 2 should always wear a mask when in public places and with others outside of their household.

Why Use a Face Mask
  • A mask slows the spread of the virus by people who are contagious and do not know it.
  • The virus spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory aerosols and droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. Loud talking, shouting, and singing can increase the distance the virus spreads. This can be limited by wearing a mask. (CDC)
  • The more people who wear a mask, the better they work to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For example, in indoor settings where people stay for more than 10 minutes, every mask worn is increasing the protection for everyone there.
  • Studies by the CDC suggest that not wearing a mask may increase the risk of an infected person spreading the virus (1), and of a close contact becoming infected (2).

Remember: My mask protects you, your mask protects me. (Click here to find out how.)

When to use a face mask
  • Everyone both vaccinated and unvaccinated
    • In areas where the level of community transmission is either "substantial" or "high," or as determined by a local health advisory, wear a mask in all indoor public places.
    • Consider wearing a mask in any indoor private setting, including other's homes, during a surge of cases such as from the spread of Omicron.
    • During periods of isolation and quarantine, wear a mask around others in your household
  • Unvaccinated individuals are expected to wear a mask in these settings
    • In all indoor public places, around others who are either vaccinated or unvaccinated.
    • In crowded outdoor settings where you expect or cannot avoid close contact with others, including public events (fairs or festivals) and private parties (weddings).
    • When in close contact with, or in the same room with high risk individuals (immunocompromised or have a chronic disease).
  • Vaccinated individuals are advised to wear a mask
    • During periods of isolation and quarantine
    • If you are immunocompromised you are advised to wear a mask in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor places where close contact is either expected or cannot be avoided.
    • In areas where the level of community transmission is either "substantial" or "high," follow guidance for unvaccinated people.
  • References

What is Acceptable as a Face Mask
  • A mask should have a nose wire, and fit snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin.
  • N95 and KN95 masks (respirators) provide the best protection and are widely available and affordable. These products no longer need to be reserved for health care workers and first responders.
  • Surgical masks provide good protection. A cloth mask over a surgical mask assures a tighter fit and adds a level of protection.
  • Cloth masks with 2 or more layers of beathable fabric are also acceptable and provide moderate protection.
Not Acceptable
  • Face shields are not acceptable as a face-covering. Note that face shields may be used in addition to another mask.
  • Masks with one-way valves that facilitate breathing out are not acceptable.
  • Winter scarves, ski masks and balaclavas are not substitutes for masks.

How to Wear a Cloth Face Mask

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
  • CDC: Improve How Your Mask Protects You.

Putting on and taking off a face covering (donning and doffing) —

  • Remove a face mask carefully so you do not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Wash or sanitize hands immediately after removing your face mask.

  • Watch a short video (just 90 seconds) about how to put on and take off a face covering. 
    If you don't see the video in the box, click here to watch it on YouTube
  • Watch a longer video (just over 5 minutes) about how to properly store a mask so you can use it again.
    If you don't see the video in the box, click here to watch it on YouTube.
  • Watch a 30-second video promoting use of face coverings
    Masks are Gorges, sponsored by the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, the Health Department, and others
    If you don't see the video in the box, click here to watch it on YouTube.
  • Image of a flyer about how to wear a face covering. NYSDOH
  • How my mask protects you, and your mask protects me. Click here to open a letter-size PDF in a new tab. Or click the image for a larger image.
    Image of a Poster showing how wearing a mask reduces COVID spread

References and Resources

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Social Distancing

Icon for social distancing. Source CDCProper distancing is still one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

When in public indoor places
  • Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others (that's about 2 arm lengths).
  • Always follow posted requirements when in a retail location, an office, or other workplace.
  • Use hand sanitizer when you enter a store or other business, and when you exit.  

Higher risk individuals
  • Higher risk means a greater chance of a more severe case of COVID-19 if the individual gets sick, and a better chance of having complications from the disease
  • Higher risk individuals include older adults (age 60+), those who are immune-compromised, or have a chronic medical condition, especially heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes
  • Higher risk individuals should avoid any in-person contact with others.

Icon for densityDensity

When gatherings, groups, or crowds form, especially in a limited or confined space, it is important to position yourself so you can continue to maintain six feet of distance from others on all sides. If others continue to come into an area with limited space so you are unable to maintain 6-feet of distance, it is best to move to an exit or remove yourself entirely from the area. Keep an eye on things so you don't get trapped. 

Additional Prevention Measures

Image of the PDF poster you can download

Infection Prevention Measures On the Jobsite
  • Standard workplace guidance applies, such as stay home if sick, wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, practice social distancing.
  • Additional measures include reduce crew size to the extent possible while maintaining safety, minimize ride sharing, avoid sharing tools, clean and disinfect frequently all frequently touched surfaces, minimize dust and airborne contaminants, use proper PPE.
  • Click here to download a posting sign with this information (letter-size PDF, 148KB).


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