Breaking: SLCo Health mask mandate requires respirators, not common cloth mask

Respirator masks. Photo: Gephardt Daily

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, Jan. 8, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County Department of Health on Saturday clarified that the 30-day indoor mask mandate issued Friday requires not common cloth masks, but respirators.

The CDC defines a respirators mask as “a personal protective device that is worn on the face or head and covers at least the nose and mouth. A respirator is used to reduce the wearer’s risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles (including infectious agents), gases or vapors. Respirators, including those intended for use in healthcare settings, are certified by the CDC/NIOSH.”

Salt Lake County Health Department director Dr. Angela Dunn issued the Friday order “requiring people in Salt Lake County, regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection, to wear well-fitting masks when indoors (or queueing outdoors) in public.”

Read the full order by clicking here.

SLCo Health spokesman Nicholas Rupp issued the respirator clarification on Saturday.

“I wanted to alert you that SLCo’s health order issued yesterday requires people to wear respirators — high quality masks (such as N95, KN95 or KF94) certified to filter a minimum amount of airborne particles. (There’s a list of respirator examples in section 2B of the order; note that surgical N95s should be reserved for healthcare use.)

“Under the order, cloth masks are acceptable as a backup until someone can get a respirator.”

County officials have “robust supply of KN95 and (nonsurgical) N95 respirators in our warehouse. Because they provide significantly better transmission protection from omicron, Dr. Dunn, in coordination with county leadership, chose to include respirators as the default requirement in the order, while also acknowledging that cloth masks are acceptable if a respirator is not available,” Rupp’s statement says.

The decision was made before order language was finalized, but after Dunn had conducted media interviews, the statement says.

The department has developed “a mask order FAQ that is clear about the need for respirators; it, like most FAQs, will continue to evolve in coming days.

“SLCo is offering respirators free of charge to the public at senior centers and county library branches (we ask that only those who do not have the means to purchase a respirator on their own take advantage of the free, public supply), and the State of Utah is offering respirators to K-12 schools.”

Some Utah lawmakers have announced plans to review mask mandates, which were also announced for Summit County on Friday. For a full overview, click here.

Respirator masks. Photo: Gephardt Daily

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