Protection and Prevention

Taking simple steps can help prevent illness from spreading. Learn more below.

Masks and Face Coverings

Do I need to wear a mask?

According to the CDC's COVID-19 Community Levels, El Paso County is currently in the low level. At all community levels, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, risk and level of comfort. Regardless of community level, people with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.  

With current high levels of vaccination and high levels of population immunity from both vaccination and infections, the risk of medically significant disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 is greatly reduced for most people, and a mask or face covering is optional. Individuals who are at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to talk to their health care provider about whether a mask or other precautions should be taken. 
Wearing masks is an effective way to limit the spread of disease, along with other prevention measures like getting vaccinated and boosted, staying home when you are sick, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently. It is the combination of all these prevention measures, when practiced together, that provides the highest level of protection.  

The State of Colorado is offering five free KN95 or surgical grade masks per person, per month at locations throughout the state. Locations in El Paso County include the Security Fire Department, Security Public Library and Pikes Peak Library District branches. Supplies may be limited, you are encouraged to contact the site to confirm availability. For a full list of distribution sites in Colorado, visit Get Free KN95 & Surgical Grade Masks.

How to properly select and wear a mask

If you choose to wear a mask:

  • Experts recommend you upgrade to a high-filtration mask, like an N95 or KN95, for increased protection. At the very least, look for masks that have two or more layers of breathable fabric. A disposable surgical mask is preferable to a cloth mask. 
  • Make sure your mask completely covers your nose and mouth  
  • Make sure your mask fits snugly against the sides of your face and doesn't have gaps 
  • Be sure to wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection.  
  • Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on a mask, and do not touch your mask when wearing it 
  • If you use a washable mask, wash your mask whenever it gets dirty or at least daily. If you have a disposable face mask, throw it away after wearing it. High-filtration masks, like N95s or K95s, may be usable up to five times with proper care. Check instructions for your mask for details. 
  • Ideally, an N95 should be fit-tested. If you are not able to get it fit-tested, wear the N95 or KN95 that closely hugs your face with minimal air flow around the nose, cheeks and chin.  
What mask should I wear? Along with getting vaccinated and boosted, experts recommend upgrading your mask if you want optimal protection. No protection: No mask or improper use. Mask should fit over your nose and mouth and be snug against your face with no gaps. Don't use masks that are damp, dirty or damaged. Don't wear masks with exhalation valves, which allow virus particles to escape. Cloth Mask: washable and reusable. Masks should be washed at least once a day or as soon as they become dirty. Multiple layers of woven, breathable fabric. Surgical masks: Disposable, intended for one time use. Multiple layers oof non-woven material. Provides protection against large droplets. High-Filtration Masks (Respirators: N95, K95, K94): Varies by mask type, but reusable up to 5 times with proper care. Filters up to 95% of particles in the air. Seals tightly to the face when fitted properly (some facial hair can interfere with this seal). Designed and regulated to meet international standards. Check lists or trusted manufacturers from CDC and Project N95 to avoid counterfiet masks. Alert: If you don't have access to a high filtration respirator mask, double up. SIngle layer maks, such as bandanas and gaiters are less effective, so wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask. Be sure your mask fits properly -- nose wires improve fit.

Can businesses require masks? 

Masks may be required within businesses, organizations, agencies or municipalities.

Businesses have the option to require or recommend employees or customers wear masks, in addition to following any of the preventive measures in their establishments if they choose to. Businesses and individuals are empowered to make the decisions they feel are best for their own personal risks and needs.

The Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center has developed these signs as a resource for businesses

Protecting Our Community