Riverside County health officials are recommending people cover their nose and mouth when leaving home for essential travel.
This new directive is because the spread of coronavirus is accelerating faster than expected. It's now recommended everyone countywide cover their nose and mouth any time you leave home – to go to the grocery store, doctor's office, or in the office for essential workers.
They don't want people to buy medical-grade N-95 masks, which are in short supply. Those should be saved for first responders. There are a number of options you probably already have at home.
Health officials say bandanas, fabric masks, and neck gaiters will work. You can even cut a triangle out of an old t-shirt. Fabric masks and bandanas can be washed and used again.
The 'cover your face' recommendation comes from the belief that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual. Fabrics can easily filter those droplets.
Fabrics not only helps to reduce the risk that a healthy person can breathe the droplets in but also protects others around someone with mild symptoms who may not yet realize they have the illness.
Face covering should be worn anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses.
Local officials had previously not recommended the large-scale use of face coverings, but circumstances have changed.
"When the situation changes, the rulebook changes,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer. “We’re seeing our numbers increasing even sooner than we predicted and that means our strategy must change too. Covering your face doesn’t change the orders everyone must abide by to stay home as much as possible and maintain social distancing, but it’s an extra layer of protection that I think we need to add.”
You should continue to wash your hands often and keep at least 6 feet of social distance.