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Powerful protection: Understanding PPE

Health care workers use several types of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep patients and themselves safe from the coronavirus.

Gown or coveralls.

These are designed to prevent contamination of skin and clothing. Gowns cover the front of the body to mid-calf. Surgical and isolation gowns offer different levels of protection. Coveralls provide full-body coverage.


Disposable gloves protect the hands and wrists.

Face shield or goggles.

Shields protect the face, mouth, nose and eyes (places where the virus can easily enter). Goggles protect the eyes only.

N95 respirator or surgical face mask.

Both of these cover the nose and mouth. But respirators fit more tightly and can block 95% of airborne particles.

Which PPE should providers wear?

That depends on the situation. Not all types of PPE are needed for every encounter. Other types of PPE not shown here may sometimes be used. The greater the risk of exposure, the more precautions will be taken.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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