Given the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi and the increased risk of exposure to both the health care provider and the patient, the Mississippi State Department of Health now recommends that health care workers wear a face covering, either manufactured or an appropriate cloth mask, throughout the workday.
This recommendation applies to health care 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 health care facility.
When caring for patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms, the state health department strongly recommends strict compliance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention infection control guidance. Personal protective equipment 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 health care facility.
Additionally, the state health department 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 recommendation does not include manufactured surgical or N95 masks, which should be reserved for health care 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 6 feet.
Furthermore, the department 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 counters. Again, patrons should always maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from one another.