OK, We Have to Wear Face Coverings Everywhere Now. Where? And Why?

Mother putting face covering on son.

Not long ago, wearing a mask in public seemed like an optional thing to do. Some people wore them. Some people didn’t.

But now, as of May 14th, wearing a mask in Los Angeles is no longer optional. That day City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a new requirement stating that everyone has to wear a face covering when they are outside their own home.

The Mayor said that it is a necessary step to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and eventually reopen the economy in a bigger way.

“Bring your mask with you whenever you leave your home,” Garcetti said. “That will help us get more freedoms.”

First, WHERE must you wear a face covering?

●       If you visit any retail business, including those that are open only for curbside or door side pickup

●       If you exercise in your neighborhood or are on a trail, golf course or beach (where you must wear a face covering if you are out of the water and people are nearby)

●       If you ride on L.A. Department of Transportation transit buses, Metro buses or trains, or travel through Los Angeles International Airport

●       The new guidelines on face coverings exempt children under 2 and people with certain disabilities.

Now let’s look at WHY you should wear a face covering.

A recent interview with Steven Gordon, MD, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Infectious Disease, and pulmonologist Raed Dweik, MD, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, looked at the science around masks. Here’s what these doctors had to say.

Face Coverings protect

Face coverings protect wearers from possibly spreading the virus to others, reducing the exhaled aerosols from infectious, but asymptomatic, individuals. Masks can keep the virus from spreading. Additionally, the coverings serve as a really helpful physical barrier when you cough or sneeze, actions can propel this cloud of droplets from you up to 25 or 26 feet. A face covering can “disrupt” that cloud and keep those virus particles from traveling.

The importance of face coverings

As businesses reopen and employees return to work, face coverings can play a pivotal role in helping block the spread of the virus, especially from asymptomatic carriers. The more people in a given space wearing masks, the less viral particles are making it into the space around them, decreasing exposure and risk. 

Face coverings can’t do it alone though. They should be used in conjunction with social distancing, not as a replacement of that practice.

Your cloth face covering should:

✔️ Reach above the nose, below the chin, and completely cover the mouth and nostrils

✔️ Fit snugly against the sides of the face

✔️ Be made of multiple layers of fabric that you can still breathe through

✔️ Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damaging the material or shape

Please do not buy surgical masks of N95 masks to use as a face covering. These masks are intended for healthcare workers and first responders. Many items you may already have in your home can be used to create face coverings.

People with a disability

Since the COVID-19 pandemic is currently considered a direct threat by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a business would likely be on solid ground to require customers to wear face masks or coverings when entering their premises. However, a business would not have the absolute right to refuse to provide a customer service based upon the customer’s refusal to wear a face covering.  When faced with a customer who is refusing to wear a face mask or covering, businesses should likely limit any questions to the following:

Are you unable to wear a mask because of a disability?

If the answer is “Yes,” then instead of additional questions regarding the disability or demanding documentation, the business should consider moving to engaging the customer in an interactive process to determine possible alternative methods of service that would allow the business to keep its employees and other customers safe, while still providing service/goods to the customer.

Remember: We are in this together and we will get through this together too. Wash your hands, wear a mask and physical distance.  For more information, visit: https://corona-virus.la/FaceCovering