Mask Guidance

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Mask-wearing and vaccination are the two most important tools residents can use to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and bring us closer to the end of the pandemic. Masks are currently required in certain places.

  • CDPHE’s Public Health Order 20-38 requires unvaccinated people to wear masks in specific settings, including medical facilities (including long term care facilities), homeless shelters, prisons, and jails. 

The CDC, along with JCPH, recommends masking in indoor public settings in areas where CDC COVID-19 Community Levels are Medium or High.

For general information about masks, visit CDPHE's website

Types of Masks and Respirators

Masks and respirators (N95s, other NIOSH-approved respirator masks, KN95s, KF94s, etc.) are effective at reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, when worn consistently and correctly. Your mask should fit snugly against the sides of your face. It shouldn’t let air escape through any gaps.

  • Respirator masks (N95s, other NIOSH-approved respirator masks, KN95s, KF94s, etc.): these masks are designed to filter small particles from the air.           
    • Some respirators are designed and tested to meet international standards. The most widely available respirators that meet an international standard are KN95 respirators.       
    • NIOSH approves many types of filtering facepiece respirators. The most widely available are N95 respirators, but other types (N99, N100, P95, P99, P100, R95, R99, and R100) offer the same or better protection as an N95 respirator.     
    • When properly worn, they provide the highest level of protection from infectious particles of the virus that causes COVID-19.    
    • They work best if they form a tight seal around your face without any gaps.       
    • You should throw away and replace your mask if it gets dirty, wet, or damaged, if it becomes hard to breathe through the mask, or if it no longer forms a tight seal against your face.                   
      • The state of Colorado is providing free KN95 masks at certain locations throughout the state.      
  • Disposable procedure masks are widely available. They are sometimes referred to as surgical masks or medical procedure masks.    
  • Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics and many types of cloth masks are available. The most important thing is to make sure it fits snugly to your face and is thick enough to block light.   
  • While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection. Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease.   
  • A respirator has better filtration, and if worn properly the whole time it is in use, can provide a higher level of protection than a cloth or procedural mask. A mask or respirator will be less effective if it fits poorly or if you wear it improperly or take it off frequently. A respirator may be considered in certain situations and by certain people when greater protection is needed or desired.    
  • When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Gaps can be caused by choosing the wrong size or type of mask and when a mask is worn with facial hair.    
  • Masks and respirators should not be worn by children younger than 2 years.

Quick Tips for Wearing a Mask

  • Choose a mask that has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric and a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top. 
  • Masks should completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps. 
  • Wash your hands before and after putting your face covering in place. 
  • Do not touch the face covering again until you remove it. 
  • Remove your mask to eat and drink and if it is still in good repair, you may continue to use it. 

Additional Resources

For more information about masks, including statewide mask orders, see CDPHE’s mask guidance.

The state of Colorado is providing free KN95 and surgical masks for members of the public at certain locations throughout the state. Learn more about where to find free masks.


Page Updated on 2/11/2022