Division Title

This site lays out the expectations for NIH personnel working onsite. It is based on current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (SFWTF). 

 NIH Healthcare Facilities Facial Covering Requirements

Healthcare facilities and locations with healthcare support activities have elevated safety needs and must maintain the use of facial coverings at all times, even when a site is in low or medium based on CDC community levels (see below). The Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce also mandates all government operated buses require masks. The NIH has designated the following facilities as subject to the facial covering requirements for healthcare facilities, due to the direct presence of patients or the integral functions they serve that directly impact healthcare operations:

  • The entire Building 10 complex (CC, ACRF, CRC, etc.)
  • The Children's Inn
  • Safra Family Lodge
  • Harbor Hospital NIA facilities
  • NIDA BRC clinical facilities
  • NIEHS Clinical Research Unit (Building 109)
  • Phoenix Indian Medical Center (NIDDK)
  • NIH Asymptomatic Testing Sites
  • NIH Fire and Rescue Services during delivery of patient care
  • All animal care facilities (when working directly with or handling animals- see Animal Program Director for specifics)
  • All security guard posts at all gates at locations with healthcare operations
  • All NIH childcare centers at locations with healthcare operations
  • Community health clinics operated or staffed by NIH employees
  • All buses, shuttles, and NIH Patient Shuttles, including shuttles stopping at Safra Family Lodge Shuttles and the Children's' Inn.

NIH Workplace Community Levels

This page provides a summary of some key elements that change based on workplace community levels. Personnel working on site can find the complete COVID-19 Safety Plan by clicking on the button below.

NIH locations will be evaluated weekly against the CDC workplace community level for the county where they are located. Table 1 below identifies the current workplace community level for each NIH location. The workplace community levels can be found at the CDC COVID-19 by County website.


Table 2 (below) outlines some of the more common requirements that change based on workplace community level. Please note that the table is not comprehensive of all changes, only the most common changes. These requirements apply to all personnel on campus, including Federal staff, trainees, contractors and visitors. For more information on work requirements associated with the different community levels please visit the NIH COVID-19 Safety Plan. You may also reach out to your IC safety and health specialist if you have additional questions.

Table 2. Workplace Community Level Requirements

Workplace Community


Facial Covering Requirements

Optional (Recommended)Optional (Recommended)Required

Physical Distancing

OptionalRecommended, especially for meetings, in-person gatherings, and high-risk settings. Recommended, especially for meetings, in-person gatherings, and high-risk settings.

Density Requirements

OptionalOptionalRequired. See Physical Distancing and Onsite Density Requirements for more detail.


In person permitted, hybrid advised. Notify DOHS of any meetings with 50+ attendees. See Meetings page for additional information. In person permitted, hybrid advised. Request approval from DOHS. See Meetings page for additional information.Virtual preferred. Request approval from DOHS. See Meetings page for additional information.

Personnel are encouraged to reference the NIH COVID-19 Safety Plan for valuable information on a variety of topics that will assist them is preventing COVID-19 spread in the workplace.  Critical information on the following topics (and much more) can be found in the guide:

Personnel with questions about COVID-19 requirements at the NIH can get email their questions to DOHS_COVID19@mail.nih.gov.  Staff may also call the COVID hotline at 301-480-8990 with questions.

CDC Community Level Assessment

CDC looks at the combination of three metrics — new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days — to determine the COVID-19 community level. New COVID-19 admissions and the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied represent the current potential for strain on the health system. Data on new cases acts as an early warning indicator of potential increases in health system strain in the event of a COVID-19 surge.

NIH COVID-19 Safety Guidance Footer