Californians Now Required To Wear Face Masks Outside Their Homes

nearmetips Posted: 2020-11-17 15:12:38
The new mandate replaced a less restrictive order, published in June, that only required a face covering when in high-risk situations such as shopping, seeking medical care or using public transportation. ​​ (Shutterstock)
CALIFORNIA — As coronavirus cases in California skyrocketed in November, public health officials "sounded the alarm" Monday, revising several safety guidelines. Californians, according to an expanded mandate, must now wear face coverings at all times when outside their homes.

The new mandate replaced a less restrictive order, published in June, that only required a face covering when in high-risk situations such as shopping, seeking medical care or using public transportation.

While there are a few exceptions, anyone stepping outside their door must have a mask on hand and be ready to wear it, unless they are alone in a car, six feet away from others not in their household, or are actively eating or drinking, while maintaining a distance.

But children under two years old or those with a particular medical condition or other health-related disability or condition remain exempt from the mandate.

The new mandate is one of the strictest measures taken by the state to reduce the spread of the virus, but it is unclear at this point how exactly the mandate would be enforced.

"The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday in a statement. "That is why we are pulling an emergency brake..."

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's health secretary also suggested during an afternoon news conference, that some may want to consider wearing a face mask inside their homes to further reduce the spread to those who may be at risk.

Monday's updated guidelines also state: "Individuals who have significant COVID-19 exposure outside of their home, such as in the workplace, should consider wearing a mask at home, especially if vulnerable individuals are part of their household."

Individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings in the following specific settings, according to the CDPH:

  • Persons in a car alone or solely with members of their own household.
  • Persons who are working in an office or in a room alone.
  • Persons who are actively 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.
  • Persons who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others not in their household. Such persons must have a face covering with them at all times and must put it on if they are within 6 feet of others who are not in their household.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Workers who are required to wear respiratory protection.
  • Persons who are specifically exempted from wearing face coverings by other CDPH guidance.

While masks do not provide total proof protection from COVID-19, health experts in California have repeatedly asserted that they provide a significant barrier against infectious particles.

Multi-layer cloth masks can help block or at least reduce the release of these infectious particles when someone nearby speaks, coughs, or sneezes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cloth masks with multi layers can block up to 50 to 70 percent of droplets released by others, and also limit forward spread.

READ MORE: CA Lawmakers Head To Hawaii Despite Coronavirus Travel Advisory

In late March 2020, a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine looked at 382 service members packed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, where a number of members became infected with coronavirus.

The study found that the use of face coverings on-board and in the congregate living quarters was associated with a 70 percent reduction in the rate of spread.

Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco, has said that one of the most important things a person can do during this pandemic is wearing a mask, according to the University's media department.

"The concept is risk reduction rather than absolute prevention," said Chin-Hong. "You don't throw up your hands if you think a mask is not 100 percent effective. That's silly. Nobody's taking a cholesterol medicine because they're going to prevent a heart attack 100 percent of the time, but you're reducing your risk substantially."

READ MORE: CA Pulls 'Emergency Brake,' Considers Curfew In Coronavirus Surge

California is now officially in the midst of its steepest case increase yet, prompting the state to move some 40 counties backward on the state's COVID-19 risk assessing blueprint Monday, massively rolling back reopening plans statewide.

Forty-one counties now sit in the purple tier and are under the state's toughest restrictions.

On Tuesday the state reported 8,743 new cases of COVID-19 and 36 new deaths as of the afternoon. And as of Tuesday, 4.7 percent of test results came back positive over a 14-day period, a 1.4 percent increase in two weeks.

There were also 101 new patients admitted to the ICU Tuesday, with a total of 2,266 patients in the ICU across the state. There were also 4,885 people hospitalized for coronavirus, a 6.7 percent increase from Monday. On Tuesday alone, 326 patients were admitted to a hospital for the virus.

Read the full Nov. 16 mask mandate from the California Department of Public Health here.


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