Alameda County Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan issued an order on Friday that requires the use of facial coverings when around the public.
The City of Fremont announced an order on Thursday and other municipalities quickly followed suite including SF, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo and Sonoma. Alameda County announced their order on Friday afternoon.
“A face covering may reduce the risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19 when maintaining at least 6 feet of distance isn’t possible,” Dr. Pan said in a statement. “Everyone should wear a face covering when engaged in essential activities and work, but there is no substitute for physical distancing and staying at home.”
The are exceptions to the order including children under 12 and those with health issues where wearing a mask is advised against by a medical professional. They are not required while actively exercising or while in one’s vehicle.
“Consistent and broad use of face covering may help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alameda County,” Dr. Pan added. “People may have COVID-19 but not show symptoms or their symptoms are so mild they don’t think they have become infected.”
Pan said face coverings must be worn in three main settings: at essential businesses, when seeking health care, and when using public transportation or other types of shared transportation.
She said the face coverings can be simple and homemade, made of cloth, fabric or other soft or permeable materials without holes, that cover the nose and mouth.
Hospital-grade masks such as N-95 masks have been increasingly hard to come by and have been steered toward medical professionals where they are needed most.
In response to this low inventory, local makers have stepped up to sew and distribute their own. “I’ve made and distributed 30 so far and I get a new fabric shipment in Monday,” noted local musician and Emeryville resident Rose Gonzales who offered to send her product to those in need for free.
The Order became effective at midnight on Friday, April 17 although enforcement will not begin until 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday April 22 to allow the public time to comply by making or purchasing a face covering.
Feature Image: Rose Gonzales