Mask guidance for UNMC faculty, staff and students

April 13, 2020

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Following the new CDC recommendations for wearing of face masks, UNMC is issuing a new guidance for all faculty, staff and students on UNMC campuses, effective April 14, 2020. Please remember social distancing is the best way to protect your health and the health of those around you. Conservation and proper use of masks is critical for our institution to extend our limited reserves as much as possible.

Please ensure you are familiar with proper donning, doffing, and extended or reuse by watching this short Nebraska Medicine video summarizing this process.

Who should wear a mask?

  • Everyone on a UNMC campus should wear a mask in public places and common areas such as lobbies and elevators. Once you reach your workspace (lab, office, etc.), you must also wear a mask unless you are in a room at least six feet away from any other person.

What type of mask should I wear?

  • At a minimum, the expectation is to wear a cloth mask.
  • Some individuals, based on the location or the type of work (e.g. BSL-3, A-BSL-3, clinical care, clinical research or specific animal procedures) may require a surgical mask or an N-95 respirator. Based on the work you do, you should follow the mask and personal protective equipment (PPE) standard operating procedures (SOPs) outlined by your research, clinical activity or location. If unsure, contact your supervisor or the area supervisor prior to going the area.

What if I am providing care, support for patient care, or conducting or supporting clinical research in a clinical area at Nebraska Medicine, Children's Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha or another clinical setting?

  • Staff, faculty, or trainees providing patient care or support for patient care at Nebraska Medicine, Children's Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha and other clinical settings throughout the state of Nebraska are expected to follow the rules for mask wearing of that institution, including type of mask in specific units or for specific activities, set by that institution or clinical unit.
  • Persons walking through Nebraska Medicine facilities, lobbies or hallways for any reason should wear a mask as designated by Nebraska medicine's policy as designated here.

If my essential duties require me to be on campus regularly, how do I get a mask?

  • UNMC - Omaha
    • Employees with regular access to clinical spaces. These employees should continue to obtain masks at the Nebraska Medicine checkpoints at the main entrances of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, the Durham Outpatient Center, or Clarkson Tower.
    • Employees that do not regularly access clinical spaces and only intermittently visit campus for essential duties. These employees should follow the same process listed above for Nebraska Medicine checkpoints.
    • Employees with essential duties that require regular access to campus (more than 24 hours cumulative per week) in primarily non-clinical areas. UNMC has a small reserve of procedure masks available for limited distribution, which will occur on Tuesdays throughout the month of April until supplies are depleted and will become available on April 14. To conserve supplies and encourage reuse, an allocation will be provided and requests will be limited to one request every two weeks.
      • Requests should be submitted by a supervisor, manager, or faculty member by completing the mask request form. Requests for pick-up must be completed by 10 a.m. on the Monday prior to your selected Tuesday pick up. Requests will not be accepted past 10 a.m. on the Monday prior to pick up. Be advised, once supplies are depleted and more supplies become available, another scheduled pick up date opportunity will be advertised.
      • The following information must be included: Names of essential personnel who will need masks in your lab or office; workspace location; the designee for mask pick-up; and what distribution time listed below designee will pick up your masks.
      • The designee for mask pick-up must be on the essential personnel list, will need to show their letter designating them as essential personnel, and will need to show their badge to obtain masks.
      • The designee can pick up masks for your division/office/lab/etc. on Tuesday between the hours of 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the UNMC General Supply Warehouse located at 601 S. Saddle Creek Rd.
  • UNMC Statewide Divisions
    • Please contact the appropriate representative listed below to secure a mask:
      • College of Allied Health Professions - Kearney (Teresa Cochran)
      • College of Dentistry - Gering (Lisa Moravec)
      • College of Dentistry - Lincoln (Jim Gamerl)
      • College of Nursing - Kearney (Cathrin Carithers)
      • College of Nursing - Lincoln (Tom Mason)
      • College of Nursing - Norfolk (Liane Connelly)
      • College of Nursing - Scottsbluff (Kelly Betts)

    What type of cloth mask should I wear?

    The CDC has issued guidelines for sewing a mask you can wear as a face covering. Your cloth mask should:

    • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
    • be secured with ties or ear loops.
    • include two or more layers of fabric.
    • allow for breathing without restriction.
    • be made of a fabric or material that can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

    Should cloth masks be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?

    • Yes. Ideally cloth masks should be washed each day after use. There is no need to sterilize them.
    • You should assume any mask you wear may contain virus after a day of wear in public, from people around you on the outside, or possibly from you, on the inside.
    • Whenever a cloth mask is taken off (e.g., when you are eating or working alone in your office) it should be placed away from others (e.g., on a paper towel labeled with your name on your desk). Place the mask so that the part that touches your face is facing up and keep the straps or ties from falling into that clean side.
    • Discard/replace if any holes appear in it or the shape is distorted so it no longer fits your face.

    How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

    • A washing machine or a sink with any detergent can be used.
    • Wash your hands after placing the mask in the washing machine or sink.
    • Dry masks on high heat.

    How do I put on a cloth or surgical mask?

    1) Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (with good friction for 20 seconds rubbing fingers, thumbs, and all surfaces), then grasp the mask by the elastic, ear loops, or upper ties, as on some surgical masks.

    2) Place the mask over face:

    • For cloth mask or surgical mask with ear loops: Secure ear loops behind the ears.
    • For surgical mask with ties: Secure upper ties first behind head, then secure lower ties behind head.
    • If mask has a nose piece, press it against your nose to fit it to your face. This will prevent it from moving as you wear it.
    • Make sure you are comfortable in your mask. Limiting the touching or adjusting of the mask while you wear it is important.

    3) Clean your hands again.

    4) Please watch Nebraska Medicine's video for proper donning and doffing of procedural and surgical masks.

    How do I safely remove a surgical/procedure face mask?

    1) Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer

    2) For a mask with ear loops, remove mask holding the ear loops. Assume that the front may be contaminated with virus, so remove the mask slowly and carefully and place with outside down on a paper towel if planning to use again that day.

    3) For mask with ties, untie lower tie first, then untie upper tie last. Assume the front or outside of the mask is contaminated, so as you remove the mask slowly and carefully, ensure ties do not fall into the interior side of mask.

    4) After removing the facemask, visually inspect for contamination, distortion in shape or form. If soiled, torn, or saturated (e.g., wet), a surgical mask should be discarded.

    5) If the surgical facemask is not visibly soiled, torn, or saturated, you can place the mask, exterior side down, on a paper towel in a place unlikely to be encountered by others, clearly marked with your name.

    6) Clean your hands again

    How do I safely remove a soft, fabric cloth mask?

    1) Clean your hands.

    2) Remove the mask touching only the straps or ear loops. Take off the mask off and place it on a paper towel, if removing only temporarily, or take it straight to the washing machine or sink with detergent to wash it if done wearing the mask for the day.

    3) It is important that a fabric mask is completely dry before wearing it as its ability to capture particles is diminished when wet.

    4) Discard/replace if any holes appear in it or the shape is distorted so it no longer fits your face.

    Who can I call if I have questions about the best mask for me to wear?

    • Remember that the work that you do may determine the type of mask you should wear.
    • For research related activities, refer to the UNMC Research Blog.
    • For clinical duties or in clinical areas, refer to guidance of your clinical supervisor or area.
    • Contact your supervisor if you have any questions about the type of mask

    Contact Environmental Health & Safety if you have questions or need information about job-related hazards, risk assessments, or protective equipment.