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Face Masks

Last updated: November 27, 2020

7.9.20 – Public Safety Order: Face Coverings in Outdoor Public Spaces

Governor Requiring Use of Face Coverings and Certain Physical Distancing

How to Wear a Mask

The virus that causes COVID-19 disease spreads mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet), or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be transmitted by touching your eyes, nose, mouth or inhaled through your lungs. In addition, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching their own eyes, nose or mouth after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. Those who unknowingly have COVID-19 and are not symptomatic can still spread the disease.

COVID-19 vaccinations are not available to the general public at this time. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Wearing a face mask or covering helps to slow the spread of the virus from person to person.


Anne Arundel County residents should follow the Governor’s Order and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation for communities to use cloth masks as an additional public health measure to limit the spread of the virus.


If leaving your residence for essential services (e.g., food, medications, essential work), the Anne Arundel County Department of Health recommends wearing a face mask that covers the nose and mouth at all times when outside of your private residence, including work and all outdoor spaces.

During a public health emergency, face masks may be limited and reserved for health care workers and first responders. Individuals are encouraged to wear homemade masks or use face coverings such as scarves to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

When to Wear a Face Mask

If you are symptomatic:

  • Stay at home except to get COVID-19 testing and for medical appointments or essential services.
  • Practice self-quarantine and if positive, remain in isolation as directed by health care providers.
  • Wear a mask if you must interact with others, but continue to stay at least 6 feet away from other people if possible, even in your household.

If you are not symptomatic:

  • Continue distancing practices and stay at least 6 feet away from other people outside of your home or where you are staying.
  • To reduce risks, leave the house only when necessary, such as reporting to a job, seeking medical care, getting food or regular physical exercise.
  • When you leave your home, wear a nonmedical mask or take one with you to put on if you cannot maintain 6 feet distance from others.

SHOULD NOT Wear a Mask:

  • Children under age 2
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Anyone who has a disability that prevents wearing a mask. People with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask are provided reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Read “Should I wear a face mask?”

Anxiety About Face Covering. Wearing a cloth face covering in public can reduce anxiety because it lowers your risk for infection, but for some, it significantly increases their anxiety from claustrophobic feelings or associating it with the situations where it should be worn because they are where the risk of infection increases. Try wearing the face covering at home for an hour while doing something you find relaxing to become comfortable with it and focus on how it will reduce the risk of infection when you wear it. If your anxiety persists consider getting help. Call 211 and press 1, text 898-211, visit, or chat confidentially for information about local services and programs.

Children and Facemasks

Proper Use

How do I wear a mask?
Masks should be placed over the mouth and nose and removed carefully, without touching the outside surface. Cloth masks should be washed frequently.

Hot Weather. As the weather gets hotter, wearing face masks and coverings can be slightly uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help make it easier:

  • Use a lightweight breathable fabric.
  • 100% cotton fabric works best.
  • Avoid a long time outdoors if you have breathing problems.

Glasses. You can eliminate glasses from fogging up by using soapy water. Wash glasses and leave them to air dry. The soap leaves behind a thin film that builds a fog barrier, helping you to see better. Also, make sure your mask fits snuggly, especially at the top. (AARP)

Mask Availability

What if I cannot find a mask?
During this public health emergency, surgical and N-95 masks are reserved for health care workers and first responders. To reduce the risk of transmission, you may use scarves and other similar face covers to cover your mouth, nose and the sides of your face. A cloth mask is better than not having a mask at all to prevent the spread of disease and protect the people around you.

An option could be to make your own mask using the guidance and links below.
YouTube video - How to make a Face Mask

Making Your Own Face Mask

  1. Build a mask that tightly encloses the area around the nose and mouth. It should be from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and extend onto the cheeks beyond the corners of the mouth. No gaps should occur when talking or moving. The mask should not be so tight that interferes with breathing.
  2. Use mask material that is tightly woven but breathable. Possibly double-layer the fabric.
  3. Masks must be made from washable material such as fabric. Choose a fabric that can handle high temperatures and bleach without shrinking or otherwise deforming.

Suggested materials

  • Outer layer tea cloth, inner layer of a microfleece to wick away moisture, and an inner tea cloth layer. Use an accordion fold to mimic a hospital mask as much as possible and use a fat woven shoelace type material to bind the sides (such as quilt binding).
  • For straps, use elastic straps that loop behind the ears. Fabric ties can be made out of extra fabric or cloth ribbon.
  • It is not advised to use HEPA filters from appliances such as air filters and vacuum cleaners. These kind of filters may be chemically treated and the chemicals may be harmful if breathed in over the course of several hours.
  • Tip: You can use existing resources such as fabric already on hand, cloth napkins or old clothes to avoid a special trip to the store.

Design Examples

There are no standards for handmade face masks. Consider the design principles above when creating yours. There are many instructions and examples available online for those who may wish to create their own. It is best to use instructions from health care sources.

Face Covers: DIY Facemasks

Sew and No Sew Instructions (CDC)

Do it Yourself (DIY) Mask Videos:

Do it Yourself (DIY) Mask Printable Instructions:

No-Sew DIY Mask Options
There are also no-sew options for covering your face when in public. These options include using items you may already have on hand.

  • Scarf
  • Wide bandeaus


Mask Storage and Cleaning

Storing and Cleaning Fabric/Reusable Face Masks

  • Cleaning: Fabric face masks should be washed between use with hot water and regular detergent. Dry completely on a high heat setting.
  • Storage: Clean masks and dirty masks should be stored separately.

Storing and Cleaning Paper Masks

  • Storage and Cleaning: At this time, paper masks should be discarded after use.

When to Replace or Throw Away a Mask

  • Face masks should be thrown away if they are damaged or if they are hard to breathe through.
  • Face masks should be changed when saturated from condensation build up from breathing or after you believe your mask has become contaminated.

Prevention Recommendations

General Guidance for Respiratory Etiquette and Prevention
Face masks are not a substitute for other infection control efforts, such as washing your hands and social distancing. Masks may be effective in reminding others to respect social distancing guidelines.

COVID-19 vaccinations are not available to the general public at this time. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, even if you are wearing a mask.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

CDC Resources

COVID-19 Contact Information

Visit the Department of Health at for more COVID-19 health information. The Anne Arundel County COVID-19 webpage at has general information on county level efforts and resources.
If you have more questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, call the COVID-19 Health Line at 410-222-7256 or email
Also, subscribe to the County Civic Ready text alerts. Text “Join COVID” to 30890.

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