During the COVID-19 (CV-19) crisis, the term mask is frequently used to collectively describe a variety of distinct items, namely: Cloth Face Coverings, Disposable Masks, Medical-Grade Surgical Masks, and N95 Respirators. The following brief summary is provided as an aid in understanding the distinctions between the major categories of masks (face coverings) and their use in reducing the spread of and providing protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes CV-19.

Many members of the University community have already purchased or made their own personal face coverings, and you are encouraged to provide your own face covering wherever possible. The University is working to obtain cloth face coverings for personnel who need them, and a limited supply of disposable face coverings is currently available.

There are instances where it is not required or may not be appropriate to wear a face covering:
  • When a person is in a personal office (a single room with a closable door) and others are not present and coworkers do not regularly visit.
  • While eating or drinking.
  • Individuals who have been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering due to trouble breathing, being incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance. In such instances, contact your HR manager to arrange for accommodation.
  • Instances where wearing a face covering creates a safety hazard at work under established health and safety guidelines, including but not limited to:
    • Performing procedures where a surgical mask is required as PPE to protect the individual from exposure to potentially harmful materials (e.g. biological agents), a cloth face covering should not be worn; instead, use a disposable surgical mask.
    • Use of N95 or other respirator is required under normal (non-COVID related) conditions for respiratory protection during normal course of research activities may continue to be used as PPE during those approved activities. When not performing these activities, use a face covering.
    • In assessing the best face covering option, consider matching the material of the lab coat/gown used for the activity (e.g. handling pyrophorics) to the face covering material (e.g. flame resistant cloth).
    • Generally, if there was no risk of exposure to hazardous materials when the activity was performed without any face covering, there is no additional risk of contaminating the cloth covering from the same activity now.
    • The use of engineering controls, (e.g. chemical fume hood or biosafety cabinet) would also protect the user and cloth face covering from possible contamination with proper sash positioning.
    • The highest risk of contamination would be from touching a cloth face covering with contaminated gloves. In the event your face covering becomes contaminated, replace it. In some cases, a face shield could be used to protect the cloth face covering (e.g. chemical splash potential).
    • Assess if work in a chemical fume hood could put the user at risk during hazardous chemical manipulation, particularly where mask wearing could cause safety glasses/goggles to fog up. No face covering may be safer than using a face covering while performing work in a fume hood, glove box, etc.

For clarity, wearing a face covering is only one tool for reducing the spread of COVID-19, and doing so is not a substitute for physical distancing of at least 6 feet for social distancing or 9 feet during prolonged work in the same lab or research workspace with others.

Frequent hand washing is a must!

For more information see UVA Policy: SEC-045: COVID-19 Health & Safety Requirement – Face Coverings.

Mask Type

Cloth Face Coverings

(alternative names: homemade masks, simple masks, cloth masks)

Details

The mouth and nose are fully covered.

Fits snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face, secured with ties or ear loops.

Can be purchased or homemade, generally with cotton fabric.

Must be laundered daily if using on UVA grounds or in a UVA facility.

Use

Required for Academic Division community (see UVA Policy) use in non-healthcare settings where 6-foot social distancing cannot be consistently maintained.

Not intended to provide protection from inhalation of small particles or virus aerosols.

Provides protection to others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the wearer.

Not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as defined by OSHA.

Do Not Use When

Your Cloth Face Coverings has a built-in valve. Use a Disposable Mask or Cloth Covering without a built-in valve instead.

Manipulating biological agents outside of biosafety cabinet where sprays, splashes or spills are possible (e.g. stereotaxic administration). Use a Disposable Mask instead.

You should be using a Fire Resistant Mask instead.

Mask Type

Disposable Masks

Details

The mouth and nose are fully covered.

Fits snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face, secured with ties or ear loops.

Disposable masks may only be worn for one day and then must be disposed of in the trash.

Faculty, staff, and student researchers who have been given permission to return to grounds to resume key research may use this EHS form Log-in to request delivery of hand sanitizer and disposable masks.

Use

Required for Academic Division community (see UVA Policy) use in non-healthcare settings where 6-foot social distancing cannot be consistently maintained.

Not intended to provide protection from inhalation of small particles or virus aerosols.

Provides protection to others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the wearer.

Not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as defined by OSHA.

Do Not Use When

Your Disposable Mask has a built-in valve. Use a Disposable Mask without a built-in valve instead.

Performing procedures which create aerosolized particles. Use an N95 respirator instead.

Mask Type

Medical-Grade Surgical Masks

Details

FDA-approved masks to protect the wearer from large droplets and splashes; helps contains wearer's respiratory emissions.

The mouth and nose are fully covered.

Fits snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face, secured with ties or ear loops.

Use

These masks are usually reserved for healthcare workers and other approved areas with task-specific hazards determined by EHS.

When faculty, staff, and students are required to wear Medical-Grade Surgical Masks for protection, they are considered Personal Protective Equipment and the use is subject to regulation by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Do Not Use When

Your Medical-Grade Surgical Mask has a built-in valve. Use a Medical-Grade Surgical Mask without a built-in valve instead.

Performing procedures which create aerosolized particles. Use an N95 respirator instead.

Mask Type

N95 Respirators

(alternative name: N95 Air-Purifying Respirators)

Details

The mouth and nose are fully covered.

N95 respirators are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

To be effective, N95s must provide a tight seal around the wearer’s face; therefore, fit-testing is required.

Under normal circumstances, discarded at end of use. Potential for decontamination, reprocessing and re-use. (e.g. UV-light, Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor, and others referenced by CDC).

Use

Designed to reduce inhalation of small, aerosolized particles, including virus aerosols.

CDC does not recommend that the general public purchase N95 respirators for protection against virus aerosols as N95s are in limited supply at this time and should be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders.

When faculty, staff, and students are required to wear N95s for protection, they are considered Personal Protective Equipment and the use is subject to regulation by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Do Not Use When

Your N95 respirator has a built-in valve. Use a N95 respirator without a built-in valve instead.

COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention Training

Required training for faculty, staff, and students performing research and those supporting research on University grounds and in University facilities.

Log-in here to start the training module.

Disposable Masks & Hand Sanitizer

EHS delivery of alcohol based hand sanitizer and disposable masks has been discontinued.

Supplies can now be ordered through UVA Procurement.

See their COVID-19 Supplies Guide for more information.

Laboratory Safety Plan During COVID-19

The Laboratory Safety Plan During COVID-19 template is provided to assist researchers in clarifying how their laboratory intends to resume on-grounds research aligned with key health safety expectations developed by the Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR). For more information see the VPR's Research Ramp-Up Toolkit.

 

Lab Ramp-Up Checklist

The Lab Ramp-Up Checklist is provided to assist researchers in their lab-specific preparations for safely bringing their labs back online from temporary shutdown. The checklist provides guidance on public health considerations, and prioritized items to check upon immediate re-occupancy of spaces and as research activities restart.

The University of Virginia is closely monitoring the emergence of COVID-19, and consulting with experts at UVA Health, the Virginia Department of Health, the CDC and other partners. The top priority is the safety of the members of the University community, and UVA will make decisions based on public health guidance and current conditions here and elsewhere.

Read More Here

EHS will continue to provide support to the UVA community throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Please understand that most staff are working remotely in accordance with UVA leadership decisions and public health recommendations.

  • All staff are available through e-mail and will continue to provide support to the best of their ability. Refer to this EHS staff listing for convenience.
  • EHS is actively monitoring the main office phone number of 434-982-4911 during normal business hours (8am-5pm, M-F)
  • The following essential support functions will be actively maintained by designated EHS personnel:
    • Critical radiation safety services (e.g. radioisotope delivery, dosimetry management, measures necessary to assure safety of personnel)
    • Hazardous materials management (e.g. pickup of regulated wastes that would otherwise compromise safety of personnel, operations, or compliance)
    • Incident Response (radiation, hazardous materials release, fire). Remember to call 911 for fire, explosions, serious Injuries or other imminently threatening incidents.
    • Other services deemed necessary to the safe continuity of essential research, patient care services and other essential University operations.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this difficult time.

Register Your Activities

Letter to the Community, Melur Ramasubramanian (4/13/20)

In an effort to provide guidance and to improve efficiency and safety, the Office of Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) has been tasked by the Office of the Vice President for Research in consultation with the Provost to keep a register and serve as a liaison for these projects to the UVA community.

If you are using UVA resources (e.g., 3D printers or shops) for research or for innovation related to masks, respirators, face shields, ventilators, parts for medical devices, medical supplies, or other PPE or medical devices; and engaging in any of the activities listed below you are required to register with EHS.

  • Prototyping, fabrication, or manufacture
  • Testing and validation
  • Sterilization, disinfection, or decontamination
  • Offering material, advice, or other collaborations with commercial manufacturers or consortia and vendors to develop, design, retrofit, or validate these items

To register your activities, fill out this personal protective equipment (PPE) / medical device (MD) registration form and send to Kate Smith (kms2cx@virginia.edu).

Guidance

EHS continues to support research focused on developing innovative prototype devices during the COVID-19 crisis. While EHS does not have authority to approve use of such devices, we can provide assistance and guidance on testing device prototypes, and identify standards and guidelines that are important for the design process.

UVA EHS Guidance Regarding New Respirator PPE Development in a Public Health Emergency [download]

Standards and Guidance for Developing Prototype PPE Devices [download]

Guidance Regarding FDA´s Emergency Use Authorization for Face Shields [download]

State of Virginia/UVA

UVA EHS Guidance for New PPE Development in a Public Health Emergency
UVA EHS Guidance for New PPE Development in a Public Health Emergency
 
UVA Downloadable, Printable Flyer - Be Aware. Be Thoughtful. Be Kind.
UVA Downloadable, Printable Flyer - Be Aware. Be Thoughtful. Be Kind.
 
Virginia Department of Health COVID-19
Virginia Department of Health COVID-19
 
UVA Research Continuity Guidance
UVA Research Continuity Guidance
 
UVA Laboratory Shutdown Checklist
UVA Laboratory Shutdown Checklist
 
UVA EHS PPE Donation to Hospital Instructions
UVA EHS PPE Donation to Hospital Instructions
 
UVA COVID-19 Guidance for Facilities Management Personnel
UVA COVID-19 Guidance for Facilities Management Personnel
 
COVID-19 Tracking Tool/Resource created by students at Stanford, UVA & Virginia Tech
COVID-19 Tracking Tool/Resource created by students at Stanford, UVA & Virginia Tech
 

Other Agencies/Associations

Infection Prevention for COVID-19: An Illustrated Summary
Yale School of Medicine
 
Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), including medical N95 masks, are forcing hospitals, care centers, and first responders across the country to, in some cases, reuse their limited supply of these critical resources during this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.
N95DECON – A scientific consortium for data–driven study of N95 FFR decontamination
 
EPA Memorandum on COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program
EPA Memorandum on COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program
 
EPA List N Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
EPA List N Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
 
ABSA SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Toolbox
ABSA SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Toolbox
 
OSHA COVID-19 Page
OSHA COVID-19 Page
 

Custodial services is conducting cleaning of public areas in accordance with CDC recommendations. These areas include counters, tabletops, door handles, kitchen surfaces, bathroom fixtures, push plates, light switch panels, railing and similar frequently touched surfaces in public areas.

Surfaces in spaces such as research laboratories, offices, student living areas, and similar types of spaces, which are not typically cleaned by custodial services are excluded. Some areas of grounds, specific to the operation, clean to the standard of their department or unit’s operational needs.


Use disinfectants recommended by CDC against SARS-CoV-2 in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. See the EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19 as well as the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC) for a list of products that have been pre-approved by the EPA for use against emerging enveloped viral pathogens.

CDC recommends disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (e.g. keyboards, desks, remote controls) can be wiped down by students, staff, and faculty before each use.

Be considerate of potential chemical incompatibilities and sensitivities of personnel when employing local disinfection techniques.

Contact EHS if you have any questions regarding appropriate disinfectants.


Departments and laboratories are responsible for acquisition of their own supplies. Because of the limited supply of hand sanitizer, it is recommended that you wash your hands at a sink with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, whenever possible.


Access to the affected area will be temporarily restricted and the University will send a special cleaning crew as needed.

To assist those crews, please keep laboratory work surfaces (i.e. benches, sinks) and floors organized and clear of unnecessary material. As always, ensure that hazardous materials are appropriately labeled, and store/secure hazardous materials promptly after use. Identify sensitive instrumentation that cleaning staff should avoid.


Please refer to the CDC’s COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment section to see recommendations for using a facemask.


EHS will deliver disposable masks and hand sanitizer, more info here. Check with your supervisor about any other PPE-related needs.


  • Consider other vendors/suppliers. Laboratories may need to consider ordering outside of Marketplace.
  • Eye Protection:
    • Use reusable safety glasses or goggles that can be sanitized and disinfected in place of disposable items.
    • Use reusable solid chin-length face-shield to protect your eyes, nose and mouth, in place of a disposable face shield and surgical mask.
  • Disposable Facemasks and N95 Respirators:
    • For areas that use disposal N95 respirators, consider the use of Powered-Air-Purifying Respirators or reusable half-face respirators, each with the relevant protective cartridges, in place of disposable respirators.
    • Refer to CDC’s most up-to-date guidance on optimizing supplies of facemask and N95 Respirators here.
  • Gloves:
    • Consider different types of gloves, such as Latex (if no sensitivities/allergies) or Vinyl (if compatible with chemical usage).
    • Try different sizes if it does not compromise the ability to work and handle experiments safely.
    • Try ways to extend glove usage without compromising glove integrity, such as spraying gloves with disinfectant (if compatible). Do not reuse disposable gloves.
    • Increase hand washing frequency, thoroughness, and length of time.


Research as of 19 March 2020 suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can survive up to 72 hours on surfaces, but in most instances, the risk of infection resulting from contact with a contaminated surface is unlikely after a few days. Please refer to this report from Johns Hopkins for more details:

https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/03/20/sars-cov-2-survive-on-surfaces/


Per CDC Biosafety guidance, it is highly recommended to perform any procedures with human samples from suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in a Biosafety Cabinet(BSC). If a BSC is not available, additional precautions to provide a barrier and reduce risk to personnel should be implemented, such as additional PPE, splash shields, and centrifuge safety cups. Any activities related to SARS-CoV-2 virus isolation or propagative procedures must be performed in BSL3 containment. These activities would require IAR modifications and appropriate IRB approval for patient sample collections.

If you are considering research involving specimens from CoVID-19 patients or with SARS-CoV-2 virus please contact the Institutional Biosafety Committee Coordinator, Paul Skoglund at ps5d@virginia.edu, who will provide guidance on how to proceed with this type of research.


Last Modified: Wednesday, 24 June 2020
 
 
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