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COVID-19: Mask Requirements, PREP Act Amendment

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Jan. 29 issued an order requiring travelers to wear masks over their noses and mouths on planes, buses, trains, and other modes of public transportation.

The order, effective Feb. 1 at 11:59 pm ET, also requires mask use in transportation hubs, such as airports and stations. Masks that comply with the order should:

  • fit snugly against the side of the face;
  • be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head;
  • be a solid piece of material without slits, punctures, or exhalation valves; and
  • if made from cloth, have two or more layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric that does not let light pass through when held up to a light source. Gaiters also should have two layers or be folded to create two.

Face shields, goggles, scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, bandannas, and shirt collars do not comply with the mask order.

HHS Amends PREP Act, Issues Vaccine Reporting FAQ

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Jan. 28 amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to expand the groups authorized to prescribe, dispense, and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The PREP Act amendment allows authorized health care providers to administer COVID-19 vaccines across state lines. Additionally, physicians, registered nurses, and practical nurses whose license or certification expired within five years are eligible, as long as their licenses were active and in good standing prior to expiration. Providers with expired licenses must undergo an onsite observation by a currently practicing health care professional.

All providers must complete CDC COVID-19 vaccine training before administration. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services soon will share information about the effect of this amendment on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program payments.

HHS also published a new FAQ page about reporting vaccine data through the COVID-19 TeleTracking portal. The questions clarify how to define a patient, delineate reporting periods, and report data from vaccination sites outside the hospital.

Association Webinar on Vaccine Distribution

America’s Essential Hospitals will host a webinar featuring leaders from essential hospital University Health, in San Antonio, which administers more than 1,500 COVID-19 vaccinations a day with the goal of reaching 9,000 people daily as vaccine supplies increase.

University Health President and CEO George Hernandez Jr., JD, will share how the health system tailored federal and state guidelines and allocation principles to the needs of the health system’s staff, patients, and community.

Register now to join us Feb. 3 at 2 pm ET.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Emily Schweich is a communications manager at America's Essential Hospitals.

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