The Pennsylvania Department of Health's guidance on universal masking during the COVID-19 pandemic recommends the use of homemade fabric or cloth masks, bandanas or scarves when individuals are in public areas as an effective complement to handwashing, social-distancing and other mitigation measures. These types of masks limit the spread of infectious droplets in the air by containing coughs and sneezes.
The following are Pitt's policies on masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and gowns, for University personnel on duty during the COVID-19 pandemic:
High Exposure Risk
The University has provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers with high exposure risk to COVID-19. These workers have been equipped with a minimum of liquid barrier gloves, appropriate cover garments and N95 respiratory protection. Additional PPE is provided and mandated for specific work tasks.
Workers in the high-risk category are those personnel handling or having direct exposure to cultures of SARS-Co V-2 in the research environment, those personnel supporting treatment of a person suspected of having COVID-19 in the School of Dental Medicine emergency clinic, and those personnel designated to decontaminate and sanitize rooms or areas where persons positive for COVID-19 worked or resided. N95 respiratory protection has also been provided to all police personnel if needed for interactions with suspect COVID-19 individuals.
Medium Exposure Risk for Non-Research Personnel
University personnel with medium exposure risk are those workers that have anticipated close contact (within six feet) of any individual, including the general public, coworkers, supervisors or students remaining in residence halls.
Gloves are required for multiple tasks including, but not limited to, handling trash and multiple cleaning assignments. Per CDC guidance, cloth masks should be worn when close contact is anticipated with individuals outside of one’s home. These self-supplied cloth masks are acceptable while at work. The University is supplying barrier masks for essential non-research personnel to limit spread of illness while at work. Per Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance effective April 19, 2020, non-research personnel are expected to use a self-supplied cloth mask or a University-supplied barrier mask while at work.
Medium Exposure Risk for Essential Research Personnel
All faculty, staff and graduate students approved to access laboratories that perform essential research not in the high-risk category are at medium exposure risk for COVID-19. Essential research personnel must follow their existing laboratory-specific procedures and approved biosafety practices regarding PPE in the laboratory, in addition to implementing the required social distancing practices for operating a laboratory during pandemic conditions. Per Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance effective April 19, 2020, essential research personnel are expected to wear a self-supplied cloth mask or a University-supplied barrier mask to and from the laboratory.
Low Exposure Risk (Non-Research Personnel)
Low exposure risk occurs during assigned duties during which personnel are able to practice social distancing. These duties do not place personnel in close contact with other individuals and do not require entry into occupied residence halls. Per Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance effective April 19, 2020, non-research personnel are expected to use a self-supplied cloth mask or a University-supplied barrier mask while at work.