Should you wear a mask? Riverside County recommends face covering amid coronavirus outbreak

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside County health officials are recommending residents cover their nose and mouth when in public while the coronavirus outbreak continues.

"The face coverings do not have to be hospital grade but need to cover the nose and mouth," a county statement released Tuesday said. "For example, bandanas, fabric masks and neck gaiters are acceptable. Fabric covers and bandanas can be washed and used again."

The guidance is for people leaving their home for essential travel, such as grocery shopping, pharmacy visits and doctor appointments, according to the statement.

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Large-scale use of masks or other face coverings have not been recommended by local officials, but citing changing circumstances of the coronavirus, the county issued the recommendation.

"When the situation changes, the rulebook changes," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a Riverside County public health officer. "We're seeing our numbers increasing even sooner than we predicted and that means our strategy must change too."

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Kaiser also said people must still practice physical distancing and remain at home as much as possible, but also mentioned that face coverings offer an "extra layer of protection that I think we need to add."

Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated the state may make policy changes in regard to face covering, but he still stressed the importance of physical distancing.

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"A lot of people are promoting face coverings and masks, others caution that it is not a substitute for physical distancing, which it is not," Newsom said. "And that it could create a sense that it is and may reduce the protocols that have worked so effectively so far here in the state of California."

Speaking on "Good Morning America" Wednesday, United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said his office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization all originally agreed that healthy people did not need to wear masks based on the best available science.

Yet with new research showing that asymptomatic people can spread COVID-19, he said he asked the CDC to reevaluate this recommendation to see whether or not mask-wearing would prevent transmission of the disease.

He said the CDC is still taking new mask-wearing recommendations into consideration.
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