California residents are now required to don face masks and other types of face coverings as the state reopens, according to new measures filed by the California Department of Public Health.
According to California governor Gavin Newsom, residents, with the exception of children, hearing-impaired individuals and those with certain medical conditions, must now cover their mouths and noses in most indoor and outdoor settings whenever social distancing isn’t possible.
The new mandate, which was released Thursday, carries the same weight as any other state order, officials said, noting that residents committing violations may face penalties.
“Science shows that face coverings and masks work,” Newsom said in a statement, stressing that the coverings are “critical” tools that must be used to keep people safe from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the Wuhan coronavirus. (Related: Coronavirus masks? They’re helpful because asymptomatic people don’t even know they’re spreading it)
“They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy,” the governor said.
Newsom repeated the announcement on his Twitter account, noting that Californians’ compliance with the order can help slow down the spread of the infectious disease.
NEW: Californians are now REQUIRED to wear face coverings in public spaces.
Together — we can slow the spread.
Do your part. Wear a mask.
LEARN MORE: https://t.co/xtXFwVeWc2
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 18, 2020
In an interview with ABC, Newsom noted that the decision to enforce the new ruling stemmed from the steady increase in new COVID-19 infections.
“Our numbers are going up, not going down. Hospitalization numbers are just starting to creep back up, and I’m very concerned by what we’re seeing,” Newsom said in his interview, adding that the most impactful thing they can think of to slow the spread of the pandemic without enforcing another lockdown, is to wear face coverings.
Over 4,000 new positive cases were recorded on June 18, bringing California’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 161,000.
The state’s daily death rate, however, as reported by Mercury News, has been relatively stable, with state authorities logging a steady rate of 60 and 70 daily deaths for all of June — a slight dip compared to the 70 to 80 daily deaths recorded from April 18 to May 24.
“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. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing,” Newsom said.
Newson’s order to require masks and facial coverings in both indoor and outdoor settings also came after the state authorized establishments such as restaurants, bars, malls, hair salons, parks, beaches, hotels, and gyms to reopen. Nightclubs and movie theaters will still remain closed, however.
Other states such as Michigan, New York, Maine, Delaware and Maryland have also enforced statewide mask orders in order to curb the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, which has infected over 2.2 million and killed 119,131 Americans as of press time.
As reported by National Public Radio, Newsom’s new order is likely to be met with resistance by several individuals who see them as an infringement on their rights and liberties.
This could be in reference to Florida and North Carolina, where directives pertaining to mandatory mask-wearing were met with protests and mask-burning events.
Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chairman of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, shared a similar sentiment, noting in an interview with USA Today that throughout history, mandates surrounding public health have always been challenged by individuals who see them as matters that “threaten individual liberties.”
“But people do need to be realistic. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and not close to the end, we’ll be co-existing with it for at least 18 months. So measures need to be taken.”
For similar stories about the Wuhan coronavirus and the global COVID-19 pandemic, head over to Pandemic.news.