The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Friday updated their guidelines and now recommends Americans use non-medical face masks to cover their face when going out in public. The idea is to give the American people extra protection without taking away from the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) medical workers on the frontlines need.
Riverside County, California – located about 50 miles east of Los Angeles – has now mandated that every single person wear some sort of face-covering when going out in public. The county's public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, told residents to wear "bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters or other clothing that does not have visible holes" and refrain from purchasing N95 masks that could be used by medical personnel.
“While more and more Riverside County residents are getting COVID-19, not everybody’s getting the message,” Kaiser said in a statement. “It started with staying home, social distance and covering your face. But now we change from saying that you should to saying that you must.”
The order is in place until April 30th. County officials say the sheriff's department will be able to enforce the order, although consequences remain unclear.
According to the Press-Enterprise, the move is designed to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, which has become rampant in the area:
County officials warn that they’re running out of time to stop the virus, which is doubling its caseload every 4.7 days. At that rate, the county expects to have 65,536 cases, 11,141 hospitalizations and 1,245 deaths by May 6.
Even if the county does a good job on three of four measures – testing, covering the face, closing non-essential businesses and gathering places, and enforcement – the number of cases will double every 10.7 days, leading to 248 deaths and 13,108 cases in the county, Dr. Geoff Leung, chief of family medicine in the county health system, said Friday.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 2.4 million people reside in Riverside County, which makes up part of the Inland Empire.