UC Davis Health is committed to providing you with the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 prevention. Learn how to protect yourself and others from novel coronavirus spread:

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As of June 18, Californians must wear face coverings or masks in public or high-risk places, including when shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care. The guidance was announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It mandates the use of cloth face coverings by the general public statewide when outside the home, with limited exceptions.

According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), research shows that people with no or few symptoms of novel coronavirus (also known as asymptomatic) can still spread the disease. The agency added that face coverings, combined with social distancing and good hand washing practices, will reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The new requirements include mandatory face coverings or masks in situations such as:

  • Inside or waiting to enter any indoor public space
  • Obtaining health care services
  • Waiting in line or riding in public transportation or ride-sharing services
  • At work in public spaces and while walking through common spaces
  • While outdoors when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet or more isn’t possible

There are some exceptions to the mandate, which are listed on the CDPH’s website. Children ages 2 and under, and people with a medical, mental health or a developmental disability that prevent them wearing a face covering, are among those exempted.

See our 5 tips to wear and care for your cloth face covering

Learn the mask safety do's and don'ts (PDF)

Get directions to make low-cost face masks for yourself and your family.

Video: U.S. Surgeon General shows you how to make face masks from items around your house

The most important thing is to pick materials you can breathe through. Currently, there is no recommendation for the most effective cloth for homemade masks. There are still a lot of unknowns about how droplets pass through cloth materials. Best practice is to look for fabrics that are very densely woven or knitted and have fibers that are packed together with smaller pores. This is where the difficult balance comes in. Fabrics that are easier to breathe through don’t block as much of the large droplets. Homemade masks don’t prevent transmission but can reduce the quantity and size of COVID-19 droplets you’re exposed to. Another important element for cloth face masks is that they can and should be washed regularly (daily or multiple times per week). Cloth face coverings should hold up well through repeated washing and wearing.

Flatten the curve refers to slowing down the rate of new COVID-19 infections so that health care systems aren't overwhelmed by an influx of cases and can still care for other patients. These are non-clinical community mitigation measures, actions that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of respiratory virus infections. While the ideal goal in fighting a pandemic is to completely stop the spread of a disease, slowing it down — mitigation — before people gain immunity or access to a vaccine is critical. Reducing the number of active cases gives hospitals and health care providers, as well as first responders, law enforcement, schools and others time to prepare and respond to what otherwise could be an overwhelming surge of infected people.

Currently, there isn’t a study that shows increased protection from COVID-19 while wearing disposable gloves. Human hands have a lot of microbial, built-in defenses in the skin. COVID-19 can largely survive longer on gloves than it would on hands. The virus isn’t going to infect you through your hands, but rather because you touch your face, which can also happen while wearing gloves. In certain circumstances, wearing gloves is advised. For example, if you’re in contact with a surface that is likely infected, you can wear gloves and then take them off when you’re done. If you have problems with hand hygiene, like skin irritation from repeated washing, then wearing gloves (and changing to new ones often) is reasonable.

Don’t rely on gloves as a barrier to coronavirus, as your hands are probably more resistant to the virus than the gloves are. What’s most important is hand hygiene and not using your hands (gloved or not) to spread virus to your mouth, nose, eyes or ears.

You can reuse gloves – although they are inexpensive, and it’s recommended to use a new pair each time. However, the virus doesn’t last forever on a surface. After 7 days, the chance of the virus infecting you is very low. You can sanitize gloves with alcohol or wash them with soap and water.

Learn other novel coronavirus (COVID-19) mistakes you may be making in preventing the virus

There are a lot of COVID-19 vaccines in development right now, with a couple that are further along in trials to determine effectiveness. The rumors about potentially having a vaccine in a year might be a little optimistic. However, just everyone in science and medicine is pushing in the same direction to get rid of coronavirus. It’s much more likely that we’ll see other drugs to treat COVID-19 before we see a vaccine. Remdesevir is proven to treat patients so they improve faster, but that’s not the final answer. The road to vaccines will be challenging – the coronavirus vaccine needs to be safe and effective. And it will be particularly challenging to convince those people who are suspicious vaccines that are proven to be safe that a brand new vaccine is beneficial.

People who are at the highest rate of contracting COVID-19 should get the vaccine first. That would include people who have the worst outcomes if infected, such as those over age 65, diabetics and people with heart disease. Additionally, staff in assisted living and care home facilities would also likely be top candidates because they are caring for those at high risk of coronavirus. After that, one strategy might be to vaccinate younger people (potentially children) to keep the virus away from older people.

The best way for people to protect themselves is to not be around sick people. Much is unknown about how the novel coronavirus spreads. However, coronaviruses typically are spread from person-to-person when in close contact (about 6 feet).

The best way to protect your health is by practicing preventive measures, such as:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, and after sneezing or before/after touching your face or a sick person. Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home from work and away from other people if you become sick with any respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. People who are sick should be in a room, with the door closed, to help prevent spreading the disease to other people.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you're coughing and sneezing, isolate yourself away from others.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work and in your car.
  • Do not travel or go out into public while sick.
  • Practice healthy habits: Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Check out these ways to stay healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic (pdf)