County of Marin - News Releases - Face Coverings

For Immediate Release
April 03, 2020

Public Health Releases Guidance on Face Coverings

Coverings most effective when used in combination with current strategies

San Rafael, CA – In response to new guidance from the California Department of Public Health, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Bay Area health officials are recommending that residents cover their nose and mouth when leaving home for essential travel, such as doctor appointments, grocery shopping or pharmacy visits. 

Resident face coverings do not have to be hospital grade but need to cover the nose and mouth. Home-sewn fabric coverings, bandanas, a “DIY” mask from an old T-shirt and neck gaiters are examples of acceptable face coverings, especially because they can be washed and worn again.

Until now, local officials had not recommended the large-scale use of face coverings, but circumstances have changed.

“Overcoming a challenge like a pandemic calls for bold moves,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Deputy Public Health Officer for Marin. “While the steps we’ve taken so far have had some effect in flatting the curve, we’re still seeing our numbers increase and that means we must supplement our strategy.”

Due to the global demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), there is a severe shortage of PPE across the state. Local officials are prioritizing acquisitions of PPE for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marin HHS asks residents to refrain from purchasing PPE for their own use and to utilize homemade face coverings instead. 

The rationale for covering one’s face comes from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention belief that COVID-19 spreads through droplets from an infected individual, whether sneezing or breathing, which fabrics can easily filter. This not only helps to reduce the risk of a well person breathing those droplets in, but also protects others around someone with mild symptoms who may not yet realize they have the illness (or is suffering from other illnesses, such as the flu). Covering the nose and mouth also may be beneficial as a reminder to keep physical distancing.

It is recommended that a face covering should be worn anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses. Face coverings should be washed after each use with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle.

Health officials stress that the new face covering recommendation is not a substitute for current COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

“Consider face coverings as an extra layer of protection that is most effective when used in combination with hand-washing, physical distancing, and staying home as much as possible,” Santora said. “The more we can continue to practice all of these things, the better chance we have of alleviating the burden of COVID-19 in Marin.”

Marin County’s coronavirus webpage is updated daily with new COVID-19 statistics, frequently asked questions, and additional resources. Subscribe to receive daily COVID-19 status updates. Individuals can contact Marin HHS about the coronavirus by calling 415-473-7191 weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and noon and 1-5 p.m. or by emailing.

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If you have excess inventory of PPE to you wish to donate to support our health care and first responder workers, please fill out our online donation form. In addition, donations can be dropped off weekdays from 1-4 p.m. at The Salvation Army (351 Mission Avenue, San Rafael), which is collecting on behalf of Marin County Office of Emergency Services and all of its coordinating partners. Only donations of new, unopened boxes of N-95 masks, surgical masks, isolation masks, disposable gowns, and latex gloves will be accepted. 


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website