What is Source Control?


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Source control keeps germs from spreading by stopping them at their source before they can spread to other people.

Source control is an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections in the healthcare setting.

For COVID-19, source control focuses on covering your nose and mouth with a mask to keep your respiratory droplets out of the air.

Masking applies to Latinos and any person with or without symptoms, because anyone infected with SARS-CoV-2 can be asymptomatic. This means they are not showing symptoms and may not be aware that they have the virus.

In this case, even if they are asymptomatic, they can still spread the virus to others through respiratory droplets they make when talking, breathing, singing, sneezing, or coughing.

“Masks that fit snugly around the cheeks and our chin are the main way to do source control for COVID-19,” said Dr. Abigail Carlson, an infectious diseases physician with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), as part of CDC Project Firstline’s Inside Infection Control video series.

Wearing a Mask for Source Control

Your mask should fit well, without gaps at the edges, and cover your nose and mouth.

This snug fit can block respiratory droplets that are released into the air when you breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze.

If you are caring for a patient with COVID-19 and you are using an N95 respirator, you are protected from the virus that your patient is breathing out, and your patients and colleagues are protected from germs that you might be breathe out.

“All of this source control is important for COVID-19 because we don’t always know who’s infected,” Dr. Carlson said.

What Can You Do to Promote Infection Control in Your Healthcare Setting?

Access more information about infection prevention and control in healthcare by visiting resources from CDC Project Firstline.

Project Firstline creates resources, including videos and shareable images, web buttons, posters, and print materials. They also have facilitator toolkits to help workers lead trainings even if they are not an infection control expert.

Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio is working with the National Hispanic Medical Association to bring Project Firstline infection control educational content to healthcare workers, so they are equipped with the knowledge they need to protect themselves, their facilities, and their patients (Latinos and all communities) from infectious disease threats in healthcare settings.

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“Healthcare teams in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care settings are the front lines against the spread of infection,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. “CDC’s Project Firstline is bolstering those efforts by developing evidence-based tools that can be delivered in a variety of ways to make infection control learning convenient and accessible for busy healthcare staff.”


 Editor’s Note: This article is part of a collaboration between Salud America!, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and the CDC’s Project Firstline. To find resources training materials, and other tools to bolster knowledge and practice of infection control, visit Project Firstline and view Salud America!’s infection control content.



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