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Californians Required To Wear Face Coverings To Curb COVID-19 Spread

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Sacramento, CA – Californians must now wear face coverings in settings public health officials identify as high-risk to help curb COVID-19 from spreading.

The California Department of Public Health on Thursday released updated guidance, citing concern that a growing body of scientific research has shown that people with no or few COVID-19 symptoms can still spread the disease. Officials emphasize the use of face coverings, combined with continued physical distancing and frequent hand washing practices will reduce the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Governor Gavin Newsom addressed why he is taking this action now. “Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations.”

“As Californians venture into our communities more, wearing face coverings is another important way we can help protect one another,” adds Dr. Sonia Angell. She stresses infection spread is still a very real threat across the state and that wearing cloth face coverings when with others outside of one’s household in addition to physical distancing and handwashing precautions will reduce it.

Handwriting Already On The Wall?

Locally, the public health officials in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties have continued to strongly recommend wearing face coverings when venturing out of the home. Recently, Calaveras Public Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita told Clarke Broadcasting, as reported here, that the county’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases that brought it to 26 recorded coronavirus infections, was close to maxing out local metrics.

He shared that if it continued to rise at a level of more than 12.5 cases per week, mandatory face coverings would be among additional public health measures that would be enacted. Both officials are expected to mirror the new state rules in their updated orders and have the legal authority to add more stringent local rules if they deem it necessary.

Earlier Thursday, Stanislaus County public health officials announced that beginning next Monday, they were requiring mandatory face coverings due to a rapid increase in the local infection rate, as reported here.

According to the latest state guidance here. Californians must wear face coverings when they are:

— Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space
— Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank
— Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle
— Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present, and when no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended
— While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible

Specifically work-related, face coverings must be worn when engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work offsite, when:

— Interacting in-person with any member of the public
— Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time
— Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others
— Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities
— In any room or an enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance

Officials outline specific scenarios when it is okay to not wear face coverings:

— When obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the service
— When seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence
— When engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, provided they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others
— If incarcerated since prisons and jails as part of their mitigation plans have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings of masks for both inmates and staff

As far as exemptions go, the state guidance excludes specific individuals from the requirement of wearing face coverings, They are:

— Children aged two and under
— Those with medical, mental health, or developmental disabilities that prevent wearing a face covering
— Those who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
— Individuals for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines

For more information about the state’s COVID-19 guidance, click here.

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