• Personal protective equipment: Commonly known as PPE, personal protective equipment is equipment like gloves or safety glasses that are worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illness. It is covered under an organization’s PPE program that covers selection, maintenance and use of PPE, as well as training of employees and monitoring of effective. It also meets specific OSHA standards.
     
  • N95 respirator: An N95 respirator is an example of PPE. They are fit-tested for the wearer, and the CDC does not recommend their use by the general public. Instead, they should be saved for health care workers, first responders, certain researchers and others as recommended by CDC guidance or required by EH&S.
     
  • Surgical mask: A surgical mask can be an example of PPE if it is used to protect the mouth and nose of the wearer from contact with contaminants like body fluid splash in the work environment. Maskshave different levels of effectiveness dependent on their construction. The PA Department of Health does not recommend their use by the general public. Instead, they should be saved for health care workers, first responders, certain researchers and others as recommended by CDC guidance or required by EH&S.
     
  • Face coverings: Homemade or purchased cloth masks are considered face coverings and are not PPE. When worn while practicing effective handwashing, social distancing and other mitigation measures, they can limit the spread of infectious droplets in the air by containing coughs and sneezes of the wearer. These are the preferred masks for most members of the general public.
     
  • Social distancing: Also called “physical distancing,” social distancing means keeping space between yourself and others outside of your home. This includes avoiding large groups and crowded places and keeping at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people.
     
  • Quarantine: Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Someone in self-quarantine is voluntarily quarantining in their home, place of residence or other designated facility.
     
  • Isolation: Isolation is used to separate sick people from healthy people. This term refers to someone known or presumed by a medical professional to have COVID-19. Someone in self-isolation is voluntarily isolating in their home, place of residence or other designated facility.
     
  • Close contact: The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time or having direct contact with infectious secretions of someone known to be COVID-19 positive.

 

Additional reading:

Department of Labor: Personal Protective Equipment

Food & Drug Administration: N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks

PA Department of Health: Guidance on Homemade Masks During COVID-19

CDC: Frequently Asked Questions

CDC: Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation