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Face Coverings Now Required Across California 

Kristina Wong smiles at the camera in her homemade mask. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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California public health officials issued guidance Thursday requiring face coverings in public spaces and other "high-risk settings" to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as new cases rise by thousands daily. It replaces previous state guidance that lets county health officials decide whether to require face coverings. The guidance reads:

"Over the last four months, we have learned a lot about COVID-19 transmission, most notably that people who are infected but are asymptomatic or presymptomatic play an important part in community spread. The use of face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing, as well as reinforce physical distancing."

Places and situations where face coverings must be worn include:
  • Indoor public spaces
  • Outdoor public spaces when impossible to stay 6 feet away from others
  • While getting health care services, including at pharmacies, hospitals, laboratories, dental offices, blood banks and veterinary clinics
  • At work while interacting with the public or co-workers, and while walking through common areas
  • While waiting for, driving or riding on public transit or in a private taxi or ride-share vehicle

Read the full guidance on face coverings:

The guidance includes exemptions for kids under 2 years old and people with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

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Los Angeles County already required residents to cover their faces in public. Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties had only recommended wearing masks in public until now. The state guidance overrides those rules.

In an emailed statement to KPCC/LAist, Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel said the state order on face coverings "came as a surprise when the governor had previously announced his support for local control when dealing with the virus." Steel had previously questioned the need for people to wear face coverings in public.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers applauded the state's mask requirement:

"Healthcare workers know the value of wearing a mask, as do many conscientious Californians, and it’s time that the rest of us do as well. Gov. Newsom’s mask order is exactly what we need to make everyone start taking the pandemic seriously again and stop putting others at risk."

California is now one of 11 states to require all residents to wear masks in public and the first on the West Coast, according to the National Governors Association.



15:13 p.m.: This article was updated with reactions from Orange County Superivor Michelle Steel and the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

This article was originally published at 1:51 p.m.

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