MSDH: Masks now recommended for personal, public protection

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In step with the CDC, the Mississippi State Department of Health has issued new recommendations regarding the use of masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The update from the MSDH can be read below.

Given the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, and the increased risk of exposure to both the healthcare provider and the patient, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) now recommends that healthcare workers wear a face covering (either manufactured or appropriate cloth mask) throughout the workday.

This recommendation applies to healthcare professionals working in clinical care areas, even if they do not come into direct contact with patients. Cloth masks are preferred in non-patient care settings in hospitals and clinics. Cloth masks should be laundered daily under the guidance of the healthcare facility.

When caring for patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms, MSDH strongly recommend strict compliance with CDC infection control guidance. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is still a critically vulnerable resource. Hygienic measures to reuse or recycle PPE should be taken when possible.

All masks should be replaced at a frequency determined by the healthcare facility.

Additionally, MSDH recommends that all Mississippi residents wear locally produced (non-medical grade masks) or homemade cloth masks when leaving the home to perform essential functions such as grocery shopping or filling prescriptions. This DOES NOT include manufactured (surgical) or N95 masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders. This additional safety measure is especially important in areas where proper social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores or other areas where essential supplies are obtained.

The best protection is staying home when possible and limiting travel outside the home. Obtain essential services as infrequently as possible, and when doing so always maintain a distance of at least six feet.

Furthermore, MSDH recommends that essential commercial operations, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores, take every measure to ensure social distancing and proper hand hygiene. Customers should have ready access to hand sanitizer. All shopping carts should be sanitized between uses. Every effort should be made to prevent crowding within stores including in the aisles, outside the store, and at checkout. Again, patrons should always maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another.

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