Face coverings recommended, but not required, when in public in Nevada County
Special to the Sierra Sun
Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its previous recommendations and advised all people to wear face coverings when out in public settings, where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
For months, the CDC recommended face masks only for those diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19. However, studies showing the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers to spread the virus elevate the need for everyone to act as if they could be transmitting to their community.
Due to the global personal protective equipment shortage, health officials are urging people to make their own cloth face coverings, saving critical resources for emergency responders.
The CDC has guides for people to make their own masks from shirts, a bandana and coffee filter, or by sewing cloth together. Masks should fit snugly, include multiple layers of fabric, and allow for breathing without restriction.
Although the science is unclear on how effective simple, homemade face coverings can be, the CDC now believes it is better than no protection while in public settings, though not a substitute for social distancing.
While Nevada County officials recommend following CDC guidelines, no orders requiring the masks while out in public, like ones in Los Angeles County, are planned.
“Covering your face when you go out for essential activities is reasonable, but please wash your hands before and after putting on the face covering,” Nevada County Public Health Officer Ken Cutler said in an email. “I think a key is that this is in addition to and not a substitute for keeping your physical distance from others, handwashing, disinfecting surfaces, and following the statewide shelter-in-residence order, and certainly self-isolating if ill.”
The new CDC guidelines are also yet to translate to environmental health standards, as businesses and governments struggle just to maintain services and keep up with changing guidelines.
Last month, the Nevada County Environmental Health department sent notice to local grocers of new social distancing standards and their enforcement. According to Environmental Health Director Amy Irani, even then the most frequent request her department received was to force employees of essential businesses to wear gloves and masks. The new recommendations could intensify those requests.
While some grocery stores like SPD have already voluntarily implemented face coverings for employees, no further directives forcing the increased protections have come from the county.
“Our employees are all wearing some kind of facial covering, whether it be a mask or bandana,” SPD co-owner Ben Painter said. “We’re doing everything we can and taking all the advice we can from the county.”
John Orona is a reporter for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in Grass Valley. Contact him at email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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