Guidelines for Wearing Cloth Facemasks

Some of our faculty and staff have asked about wearing a mask while on the VUMC campus. Reasons for this range from concerns about possible spread without symptoms and self-protection. 

The risk of spread of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 without symptoms is felt to be a rare means of spread, and more often spread may be occurring with the initial onset of respiratory symptoms (e.g. runny nose person touches face person then can contaminate surfaces). 

Currently, no health authority recommends universal masking in healthcare facilities to prevent COVID-19 spread. (Although, this may prevent a person from subconsciously touching their face.)

As such, VUMC employees may wear fabric facemasks under the following rules:

  • Important Infection Prevention Note: Fabric facemasks are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE). They should not be used where entering the room of a patient on droplet precautions, including those with known or suspected COVID-19.
  • Fabric facemasks should be made of new, tight-weave cotton fabric (i.e. quilting cotton, denim, duck cloth, canvas, or twill).
  • If an employee chooses to wear a fabric facemask, the facemask should be worn at all times.
    • Facemasks should be worn over the mouth and nose and should not be worn dangling around the neck or on the chin/forehead.
    • Employees should not touch or adjust their facemask. If they do, they must immediately perform hand hygiene.
    • When removing the mask immediately perform hand hygiene
  • Fabric facemasks should be laundered in hot water daily.
  • When not in use, fabric facemasks should be stored in a clean, closed paper bag or breathable container.