With the spread of Omicron, COVID cases in the community are rising. Because Omicron is so highly transmissible, it is more important than ever to be sure that we follow the Lab’s COVID-19 safety protocols, including our continuing commitment to the Health Pledge. We have the tools to slow the spread of Omicron and other variants of COVID-19.
Get vaccinated and boosted. If you are vaccinated, get a booster shot. Get vaccinated if you are not yet vaccinated. See the Lab’s vaccination policy for more information. Vaccines are highly effective against serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Keep the distance. Even though fully vaccinated individuals (Protocol A) are not required to maintain 6-foot distancing, you are strongly encouraged to do so as much as possible. If you aren’t fully vaccinated (Protocol B), you must maintain 6 foot distancing from others or wear a respirator when you can’t.
Eat and drink with care. Risk increases when masks are removed for eating and drinking. Be sure to keep at least 6 feet from others when eating and drinking indoors. Only remove masks to take a bite or sip (“actively” eating or drinking). When outdoors, Protocol B individuals are required to follow the same practice and Protocol A is strongly encouraged to do so.
Mask up with a well-fitted mask. The disposable, surgical-type masks provided by the Lab are just one type of face-covering or mask that may be used. Managers and supervisors may purchase other types to suit the needs of their staff. No matter which masks you use, a well-fitting mask has two or more layers, covers the mouth and nose, and has no gaps between the face and mask. Straps that go over the head and behind the neck can provide a better fit than earloops. In addition, good filtration blocks virus particles from getting through the mask material itself. Masks must not have exhalation valves.
Here are some tips on masking to slow the spread of COVID-19:
Reusable Cloth Face Coverings
- Choose masks that have nose-wires for a good fit across the nose bridge.
- Choose masks that meet performance standards.
- Use a brace or support frame to improve the fit. See page 3 of this document for links.
- Double mask to improve the fit and filtration (e.g., a cloth face covering worn over a surgical mask). Do not double mask if using KN95 or KF94 masks or N95 respirators.
Disposable Surgical-type Masks
- Try the “knot and tuck” method to get a better fit with a disposable surgical-type mask.
Higher Quality Masks and Respirators
- Try KN95 and KF94 masks, which are highly effective at filtering out viral particles. While not approved for use as a respirator in the United States, these masks can provide a high level of protection. They are available for purchase on eBuy, Amazon, or from other suppliers. You may contact your Division Safety Coordinator or EHS Liaison if you need help with ordering.
- Request a respirator from EHS. These are available for voluntary use, but remember that those assigned to Protocol B are required to wear respirators when less than 6 feet from others.
- For a reusable and sustainable option, half-face elastomeric respirators with P100 filters continue to be available to employees. P100 is considered the highest level of viral particle filtration and can filter at least 99.97% of airborne particles when worn correctly.
- N95 respirators are also available upon request. Here is how we are handling requests.
- Respirators are available through EHS. They are restricted items and may not be purchased through the Lab’s requisition system without EHS approval.
- Send an email to RPP@lbl.gov to request a respirator.
The Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and the California Department of Public Health also have excellent resources and information on masking.
The Lab’s Face Coverings Guidance has more information about face coverings, including, acceptable types, when and how to wear them, and how to take care of them.
Contact RPP@lbl.gov if you have questions about respirators or face coverings/masks.
Contact the COVID Info Line at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-486-5000 if you have other questions about COVID-19.
Written: January 12, 2022