Starting Thursday, residents of Monterey County will be required to cover their faces while venturing outside their homes in a new county Health Department measure aimed at slowing the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus, which has so far claimed more than 52,000 deaths in the United States.
“Due to continued community spread of COVID-19 across our region, I have issued a new order requiring facial coverings for everyone going out into the public to perform essential activities,” Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno said in a statement
A face covering will help “keep our germs to ourselves,” he said, noting that people experiencing no symptoms may be carriers of the virus and are likely to infect others if not careful.
The county said that residents must wear face-coverings in public comes for essential activity only, while still complying with sheltering in place, and maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene.
Officials are asking the public to use homemade face coverings rather than N-95 respirators and surgical masks, which are in short supply and should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.
The new order also says that businesses may not serve customers who are not wearing masks.
People who have trouble breathing and children under 12 are exempt from the order. And children under 2 must not wear a mask because it can suffocate them.
Businesses must take reasonable measures, such as posting signs, to remind patrons about face coverings, and may not serve customers who do not observe the order. Workers do not need to wear face coverings if they are alone in a personal office but must put them on when others are present.
The order does not require children 12 and younger to wear face coverings or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Here are some tips from face coverings from the California Department of Public Health:
Face coverings can be made from cloth, be factory-made or hand-sewn, or improvised using bandannas, scarves, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towels.
The material should cover the nose and mouth.
Ideally, face coverings should be washed after each use. Dirty masks should be placed in a dedicated laundry bag or bin.
Use detergent and hot water when washing cloth masks and dry them on a hot cycle.
Be sure your mask is comfortable; you don’t want to have to keep adjusting the mask because that means touching your face.
Wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer, before and after touching your face or face coverings.
If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing it, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.