“There is scientific evidence to suggest that use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Their primary role is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well,” his office said (pdf).
Face coverings have to be worn while people are inside or in line to enter any indoor public space, obtaining healthcare services, waiting or riding on public transportation, engaged in work at a workplace with other people, and in other scenarios, according to the order.
State officials are seeing “too many people with faces uncovered,” which is risking progress that Californians have made in staving off the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus, Newsom said.
“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,” he added.
Michigan, New York, Maine, Delaware, and Maryland already have statewide mask orders, while many metropolitan areas have similar requirements. Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and South Carolina have no mask requirements.
Exceptions to the order include for children under 2 and people with legitimate medical problems.
Newson’s order was not clear how the state would enforce the order, which recommends that people who drive as a service for a living wear face coverings when alone in their vehicles.
California was the first state to impose sweeping statewide lockdowns on residents as well as business closures. Those went into effect on March 19.
“As Californians venture into our communities more, wearing face coverings is another important way we can help protect one another,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, California Department of Public Health, in a statement. “Combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, wearing cloth face coverings when we are with others outside of our household will reduce the spread of COVID-19, which is still a very real threat across our state.”
State officials reported that more than 160,000 cases of the CCP virus have been confirmed along with more than 5,200 deaths.
Southern California’s Orange County’s public health officer resigned last week after she faced threats over an order that people wear masks. The county sheriff said he wouldn’t enforce her order.
Frank Kim, the county’s executive officer, confirmed her resignation to The Associated Press: “It’s a very stressful position. There have been multiple staff that have received threats and each one of those is reviewed by law enforcement. We take them very seriously.”