New York state continues to take action to combat the spread of COVID-19 including requiring all New Yorkers to wear a mask and practice physical distancing (maintaining a six-foot distance from others) in public. Guidance on how to protect yourself and others is available from the New York State Department of Health.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I wear a face covering?
Recent studies indicate that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. Consequently, a mask or face covering is worn to reduce community spread of the disease.
- Outdoors: All employees, students and visitors are required to have a mask or face covering readily available on their person (e.g., around neck) when on campus outdoors and to put on their mask or face covering when it is NOT feasible to maintain physical/social distancing measures (i.e., at least six-feet of separation between others).
- Indoors: Anyone entering a building must put on a mask or face covering prior to entering a building and continue to wear a mask or face covering in common areas such as elevators, lobby and bathrooms when traveling around the building and working in shared spaces. Additionally, masks and face coverings are required in common areas of residence halls, dining halls, community centers, the Cornell Stores, and other retail locations and gathering spaces across campus. Face coverings or masks can only be removed when alone in a cubicle, office or other unit-designated area following social distancing guidelines. (Note: For the intent of this procedure, cubicle is defined as a space with three walls at least five-feet in height.)
Consult the EHS COVID-19 website for additional guidance on face coverings and the hierarchy of controls guidance document.
What are the best practices when using a cloth face covering? How do I make one at home?
It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet physical (or social) distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
Cloth coverings should:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
- The CDC has instructions for making cloth face coverings at home.
When wearing a face covering, remember to:
- Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol prior to putting on a face covering.
- Ensure the face covering fits snugly around the mouth and nose.
- Avoid touching the face covering while using it. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Do not wear a face covering when it is damp or when wet from spit or mucus.
- When removing the face covering, remove it from behind, do not touch the front.
- After removing the face covering, immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Can I clean or reuse a mask or face covering?
Because of increased demand, face coverings and masks may not be readily available for purchase and deliveries may have long lead times. Faculty, staff and students are requested to conserve and reuse masks when feasible.
- Use disposable coverings and masks until they become damaged, soiled or wet. If a mask becomes damp from normal respiration, perspiration, or from water, remove the mask and store in an uncontaminated area (e.g. paper bag, in belongings, or locker) to allow the mask to dry and then reuse when feasible.
- Use reusable coverings and masks until they become damaged, soiled or wet. Damaged coverings should be disposed of.
- Reusable coverings should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. Standard washing practices and machine washing is satisfactory to properly wash a face covering.
- Be sure to have a backup covering or mask available.
Can I get an accommodation if I am unable to wear a mask or face covering?
Employees who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition or other protected reason may submit an ADA workplace accommodation. Contact the Medical Leaves Administration in Human Resources by email at email@example.com.Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition or other protected reason should contact Student Disability Services.
Does wearing a face covering replace the need for physical distancing?
Wearing a face covering does not replace the need for physical (or social) distancing. The CDC's recommendation to wear face coverings complements and does not replace other efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. For more information, consult the COVID-19 Hierarchy of Controls guidance document.
As such, in addition to wearing face coverings, remember to:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home from work if you are feeling sick. If you become sick at work, distance yourself from others and contact your supervisor.
- Periodically clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol prior to touching face, handling shared equipment and putting on or touching your face covering or mask.
- Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in a waste basket. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth and face, as well as your face covering when outside the confines of your own home.
- Periodically disinfect high touch points, shared areas and equipment and personal electronics with products that meet EPA criteria for use against the virus that causes COVID-19.
- For additional guidance, consult the COVID-19 Hierarchy of Controls.
How can I acquire face coverings, gloves, disinfecting supplies and hand sanitizer for my team?
Procurement and Payment Services and Facilities and Campus Services (FCS) are working to source and maintain a centralized inventory of the following critical supplies:
- Face coverings
- Hand sanitizer
- Nitrile gloves
- Disinfecting solutions
To effectively manage the university’s costs and suppliers’ inventories, please avoid buying these products directly from other sources. Please see instructions below.
Our procurement agents are monitoring supplier inventories with core suppliers (VWR, Grainger, W.B. Mason, Johnston) and evaluating solicitations from suppliers that are transitioning to producing COVID-19 related supplies.
Ordering from the Central Inventory
FCS is ordering, warehousing and delivering the items listed above. Orders will be fulfilled from the R5 Operations warehouse.
To Order: Visit e-SHOP and select the link labeled Central inventory order form for critical supplies in the e-SHOP messages section of the home page.
Placing Other e-SHOP Orders
For all other supply orders, if you have difficulty obtaining supplies or receive backorder or cancellation notices from an e-SHOP supplier, immediately email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Procurement helpline at (607) 254-5300 for assistance.
Why shouldn’t I wear a respirator?
N95 respirators and KN95 respirators are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers, medical first responders and those performing the limited high-risk tasks directly supporting the continuity of healthcare, public safety or essential research.
What if I am unable to wear a face covering?
If you are unable to wear a required face covering due to medical, religious or other protected reason, you can follow the appropriate process for requesting an ADA reasonable accommodation or a religious accommodation (University Policy 6.13.8, Religious Accommodation (pdf)). Refer to CDC guidance for the list of People Who Are at Higher Risk for Severe Illness.