Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez made this mask herself. The city shared it Friday in a tweet. Photo: City of Berkeley

The city of Berkeley’s health officer and other health officers around the region and state recommend that everyone cover their noses and mouths with cloth when leaving home for essential visits to doctor’s offices, supermarkets or pharmacies.

A bandana, fabric mask, neck gaiter or other cloth barrier helps prevent those who have mild or no COVID-19 symptoms from unknowingly spreading it to others. To protect yourself from others, use physical distance.

Do not use surgical masks or N-95s. Preserve the limited supply of medical-grade masks such as an N-95 for health care workers or first-responders, who cannot use physical distance to protect themselves, especially from people at their most symptomatic, infectious periods.

This new recommendation from the city of Berkeley, state and regional officials comes as scientists and doctors rapidly learn more about this new type of coronavirus, which was detected only four months ago and has no known medicine or vaccine.

“Wear a bandana to protect others from an infection you might have,” said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, the city of Berkeley health officer. “When you see others wearing a cloth covering, know that they are protecting you.”

Face coverings should cover the nose and mouth. Cloth materials can be improvised and should be washed repeatedly with detergent and dried on a hot cycle. Ideally, use a dedicated laundry bin so they are washed after each use.

Make sure the covering is comfortable – you don’t want to have to keep adjusting the mask, which means touching your face. Always wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer, before AND after touching your face or face coverings.

Health officials stress that staying home, frequent hand washing and physical distancing are the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings may also serve as a reminder to the critical order to shelter in place except for essential activities.

If you have sealed packages of masks, gloves, and other protective equipment to support Berkeley’s emergency response you’re able to donate, let us know.

“Stay home except for essential activities,” said Hernandez. “When you must leave, help care for our community by keeping distance from others and covering your face.”

Visit for additional information on COVID-19, recommendations from Berkeley Public Health, and changes to City services.