PPE & Environmental Control

PPE Resources

PPE Frequently Asked Questions


Eye protection
Procedure mask (or N-95 if performing an aerosol-generating procedure)

Please utilize PPE supplies provided by the hospital as they are designed as PPE. Hospital-provided eyewear does provide a greater area of facial coverage than a majority of personally bought eyewear. Also, by using hospital-provided eyewear, you will be able to reduce the number of steps in doffing and the continuous requirement of disinfecting personal items between COVID and non-COVID patients.

Shoe covers and bouffant caps are not recommended at UTMB for PPE use. Incorrect removal of additional PPE may increase the risk of self-contamination if removed incorrectly.

Why no shoe covers: Scrubs can become contaminated while removing shoe covers. If you are concerned about contamination on your shoes, you may use a disinfectant wipe after completing your shift and leave your shoes outside the home and/or separated from other items.

Why no Bouffant caps: Inappropriate removal of the bouffant cap can cause a displacement of eyewear and/or mask which may result in incidental contamination closest to your eyes, nose and mouth.

Surgical caps are permitted provided they are not being frequently removed during the shift and that they are washed daily with other scrubs.

Since the duration of this pandemic is unknown, UTMB is proactively working to conserve current supplies to avoid running out if and/or when there is a surge of patients.

At this time, masks are not being immediately returned to the floor after reprocessing. Reprocessed masks are being stored until the available supply of new masks is exhausted.

Urgent note:

  1. Please refrain from wearing makeup below the eyes if your clinical duties require you to wear an N-95 mask. This will keep the appearance of the masks clean in the event that they will need to be redeployed to clinical areas
  2. Be mindful to avoid placing trash in the recycling receptacles; 30% of eye protection is being thrown away because of mixed trash. Please place trash in the designated labeled trash receptacle and keep the recycle N95 1860s, 1805s and eye protection free of trash.

No, while this has become a common practice across the nation, UTMB is currently not recommending this practice due to the lack of evidence indicating how effective this is. In order to avoid a potentially false sense of security, please continue to follow extended use guidance and recycle as indicated.

Only Goggles and Face shields

Reuse is the practice of reusing the same PPE for multiple encounters with patients but removing it “doffing” after each encounter. Ensure you have all the supplies available to safely reuse eye protection.

Supplies Needed: Alcohol spray bottle can be ordered here ORDER FORM and clear plastic bags (Order Number 20319-pack 100)

Steps to clean eye protection:

  1. Upon exiting room perform hand hygiene
  2. Prior to removing eye protection, acquire an alcohol spray bottle for disinfection.
  3. For face shields: remove from the foam or strap without touching the contaminated plastic shield. Spray with alcohol and wipe surface of shield. Store in clear plastic bag with your name. Discard at the end of shift.
  4. For goggles: After removal, spray with alcohol and wipe surface. Store in clear plastic bag with your name. Recycle goggles at the end of shift.

Reuse of Eye Protection PDF

Revised 7/30/20

Extended use refers to the practice of wearing the same N95 respirator for repeated close contact encounters with several patients, without removing the mask and eye protection between patient encounters.

Please refer to the Extended Use Fact Sheet for more information.

The only difference between the yellow and blue PPE gowns are their permeability to large volumes of liquid. If significant fluid exposure is anticipated, the blue gowns are recommended. However, both gowns are protective in dry patient encounters.
Read more about gowns in this 6-30-20 update.


Avoid touching the front of mask
  • Avoid touching the front of the mask at any time, whether with hands (gloved or ungloved) or anything else.

use the straps to put on
  • Please use only the straps to put on and take off the mask.

place mask face down on a disposable surface
  • If you need to take off the mask, please place it face down on a disposable surface, such as a paper towel.

Wash hands
  • Always perform hand hygiene before and after putting on or taking off the mask, and dispose of the mask if it becomes damaged or soiled.

Do not pull down the mask under the chin
  • Do not pull down the mask under the chin or untie the top straps to let it dangle around the neck.

use these supplies judiciously
  • Please remember to always use these supplies judiciously.

Have you bought your own mask?

We have sufficient amount of personal protection supplies at UTMB for your safety. Only medical grade supplies provided by UTMB are acceptable in clinical setting. Please do not wear personally bought masks or other protection in the health care facility.

COVID-19 Healthcare Team Key Information

  • Personal Protective Equipment

    UTMB currently has adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment. However, shortages are likely to occur due to limitations in manufacturing capacity. Judicious use of PPE is strongly advised. Only a few essential persons should be involved in the care of suspected cases. Use of surgical facemasks or N-95 mask should be limited to strict situations and prioritized for healthcare personnel at the highest risk of acquiring infection. The use of a mask for individuals without symptoms does not prevent transmission—proper hand hygiene is key.
    NEW: Read Clinical Task Force guidance on GOWNS issued 6-30-20. 

COVID-19 General FAQs


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission. 
  • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 4/29/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

External Resources