California governor requires residents to wear face masks in most indoor, outdoor settings
Marco della Cava | USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO — California’s governor on Thursday waded into the growing national divide over face masks, which often are cast as either a common courtesy to stem the spread of coronavirus or an infringement on personal freedom.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that citizens now must cover their mouths and nose in most indoor settings and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible. Among those exempt: children, the hearing impaired and those with medical conditions.
No enforcement guidelines were mentioned in the statement, but California Department of Public Health officials said the mask order carried the same weight as any other state orders with violations resulting in possible financial and other penalties.
“Science shows that face coverings and masks work,” Newsom said in a statement. “They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”
Masks, whether surgery-quality N95s or the handmade variety, are considered a reliable defensive measure against the spread of coronavirus as they prevent those infected from spreading the virus through droplets exiting their mouth and nose.
States including Michigan, New York, Maine, Delaware and Maryland already have statewide mask orders in place. In other states, including Florida and North Carolina, mask directives have been met with resistance ranging from protests to mask-burning events.
Mask matters have been rendered political after President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who have been pushing for a fast restart of the U.S. economy, refused to wear masks in a number of public settings.
And mask guidelines also have been downright confusing after the World Health Organizations and other officials repeatedly changed their opinions in recent weeks on the efficacy of masks in preventing infection.
In California, local governments had been in charge of face mask guidelines, which has led to tense confrontations particularly in Southern California. Orange County’s public health officer, Nichole Quick, resigned last week after she faced threats over her mask order. Los Angeles County requires people to wear masks whenever they are outside their homes, as do San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. Read full story here »