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From recommendation to requirement, San Mateo County to enforce face masks for the public, essential employees

Santa Clara County now 'strongly urges' face masks. Both counties don't recommend N95 masks.

San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow is now explicitly requiring residents and essential employees to wear face coverings when out in the public, taking a major step further from the county's April 2 announcement where masks were only a recommendation.

The new order takes effect Friday at 11:59 p.m., according to the press release, but won't be enforced until this Wednesday, April 22, at 8 a.m. The order advises against wearing N95 and medical-grade masks, which are in short supply.

Violators of the health order can be charged with a misdemeanor under California Health and Safety Code section 120195, which states anyone who disobeys the order of a health officer can be subject to a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $1,000; imprisonment of up to 90 days; or both.

Under the new guidelines, residents outside of their homes and inside an essential business, including grocery stores, hospitals and even ride-sharing vehicles, are required to wear some form of face covering that protects the nose, mouth and other areas of the lower face.

However, residents are not strictly required, but recommended to wear a mask when engaging in outdoor activities such as "walking, hiking, bicycling or running" while also keeping a 6-feet distance.

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Employees at essential businesses are also required to wear face masks. This includes anyone working in the food sector — from restaurant cooks to grocery store clerks — and bus drivers and drivers of ride-sharing services, regardless of whether anyone else is present inside the vehicle.

The only exception for employees is if they're working in a private space less frequented by members of the public or coworkers.

Children ages 12 or younger are exempt from the requirement, and those ages 2 or younger should not wear a mask due to the risk of suffocation.

San Mateo County is among the Bay Area counties that have updated their guidance on face coverings. Sonoma County's order that went into effect Friday requires health care workers to wear masks in all medical facilities and group homes, among other facilities that provide care. People who enter patient care facilities must wear medical-grade masks, but residents or patients in those facilities are exempt from the order.

Also on Friday, Alameda and Contra Costa counties each issued orders on face coverings that will be enforced starting Wednesday.

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The Santa Clara County Public Health Department also issued a statement Friday evening on face masks, but with slight changes compared to its April 2 statement, shying from "recommending" to "strongly urging" people to wear masks.

This is a "critical recommendation," Dr. Sara Cody said in a YouTube video published Friday evening. The new guidance comes as more research emerges on COVID-19.

The virus is much more insidious than previously understood. Those infected with the coronavirus can show no symptoms of COVID-19, and people with the virus can transmit it for up to 48 hours before showing any symptoms at all, Dr. Cody said.

"What that means is that we've got a lot of spread happening unnoticed," she said. "We urge the public, we really urge everyone, to wear a face covering."

For detailed information on face masks, including a step-by-step tutorial on how to make them, visit cdc.gov.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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From recommendation to requirement, San Mateo County to enforce face masks for the public, essential employees

Santa Clara County now 'strongly urges' face masks. Both counties don't recommend N95 masks.

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Apr 17, 2020, 7:31 pm

San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow is now explicitly requiring residents and essential employees to wear face coverings when out in the public, taking a major step further from the county's April 2 announcement where masks were only a recommendation.

The new order takes effect Friday at 11:59 p.m., according to the press release, but won't be enforced until this Wednesday, April 22, at 8 a.m. The order advises against wearing N95 and medical-grade masks, which are in short supply.

Violators of the health order can be charged with a misdemeanor under California Health and Safety Code section 120195, which states anyone who disobeys the order of a health officer can be subject to a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $1,000; imprisonment of up to 90 days; or both.

Under the new guidelines, residents outside of their homes and inside an essential business, including grocery stores, hospitals and even ride-sharing vehicles, are required to wear some form of face covering that protects the nose, mouth and other areas of the lower face.

However, residents are not strictly required, but recommended to wear a mask when engaging in outdoor activities such as "walking, hiking, bicycling or running" while also keeping a 6-feet distance.

Employees at essential businesses are also required to wear face masks. This includes anyone working in the food sector — from restaurant cooks to grocery store clerks — and bus drivers and drivers of ride-sharing services, regardless of whether anyone else is present inside the vehicle.

The only exception for employees is if they're working in a private space less frequented by members of the public or coworkers.

Children ages 12 or younger are exempt from the requirement, and those ages 2 or younger should not wear a mask due to the risk of suffocation.

San Mateo County is among the Bay Area counties that have updated their guidance on face coverings. Sonoma County's order that went into effect Friday requires health care workers to wear masks in all medical facilities and group homes, among other facilities that provide care. People who enter patient care facilities must wear medical-grade masks, but residents or patients in those facilities are exempt from the order.

Also on Friday, Alameda and Contra Costa counties each issued orders on face coverings that will be enforced starting Wednesday.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department also issued a statement Friday evening on face masks, but with slight changes compared to its April 2 statement, shying from "recommending" to "strongly urging" people to wear masks.

This is a "critical recommendation," Dr. Sara Cody said in a YouTube video published Friday evening. The new guidance comes as more research emerges on COVID-19.

The virus is much more insidious than previously understood. Those infected with the coronavirus can show no symptoms of COVID-19, and people with the virus can transmit it for up to 48 hours before showing any symptoms at all, Dr. Cody said.

"What that means is that we've got a lot of spread happening unnoticed," she said. "We urge the public, we really urge everyone, to wear a face covering."

For detailed information on face masks, including a step-by-step tutorial on how to make them, visit cdc.gov.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

chris
University South
on Apr 17, 2020 at 8:42 pm
chris, University South
on Apr 17, 2020 at 8:42 pm
14 people like this

Let’s use social pressure to force people in Palo Alto to wear masks. It’s doesn’t make sense that they are required in Menlo Park and not Palo Alto.


Palo Alto mother
Ventura
on Apr 17, 2020 at 10:54 pm
Palo Alto mother, Ventura
on Apr 17, 2020 at 10:54 pm
24 people like this

No we should not be forcing everybody in Palo Alto to wear masks. [Portion removed.]


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:09 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:09 pm
9 people like this

When going in stores, picking up take out food, etc. It may make sense. While walking in the street or a park where there is nobody within 10' and you are passing for just a couple of seconds, it does not make sense.

All these people standing in front of cameras, often several standing close to each other, in front of journalists, camera people, sound people, microphones, etc. they are not wearing masks. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx are never wearing masks when they are standing in front of people at press conferences.

Masks are not good for mental health. They give a feeling of distrust and claustrophobia. They probably get handled so much that they are probably spreading more germs than anything else.


S_mom
Community Center
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:11 pm
S_mom, Community Center
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:11 pm
13 people like this

Palo Alto seems to have very few cases with a small growth rate (so small it’s possibly offset by the recovery rate). I think Palo Altans have already been pretty careful and rule following, it would feel punitive to suddenly mandate face coverings (and I say this as someone who does wear a cloth mask for errands and any situation where I might interact with someone). A mandate seems unnecessary at this point.


Roger Dodger
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 11:51 am
Roger Dodger, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 11:51 am
24 people like this

@Palo Alto mother:

"Hysteria" is what we are seeing at the Statehouse in Ohio as recently shown in the New York Times (Web Link), with right-wing anti-shelter-in-place protestors clamoring at the doors like a horde of the walking dead, demanding liberty they already enjoy, and forsaking any notion of common sense or rational thinking.

The requirement to wear masks in public, however, is based on this really interesting thing called "science." If, as strongly suspected and evidenced in emerging data, there are a lot of people who have the virus and are asymptomatic, then wearing a mask is an important part of PROTECTING OTHER PEOPLE FROM INFECTION. It requires thinking on at least a community-level scale, if not societal. We need to work together to protect and care for each other. Wearing a mask in public, when you may come into contact with others, is one of the least things any of us can do at this point to try to mitigate the effects of this pandemic.

Remember, we are only at the beginning of this thing. It will cause devastation on a global scale, and it will most likely come back. We need reasoned, scientifically-based public policy to drive our decisions, not politics and "hunches."


Nayeli
Midtown
on Apr 18, 2020 at 1:41 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
on Apr 18, 2020 at 1:41 pm
3 people like this

Where can we buy a mask?

We have tried to make some, but they aren't very good. It doesn't help that we are limited on the supplies to make them anyway.


Roger Dodger
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 3:00 pm
Roger Dodger, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2020 at 3:00 pm
10 people like this

@Nayeli: here is a link to a simple tutorial. The idea is to just cover your mouth and nose, to reduce the possibility of spread. It doesn't need to be N95 or OSHA compliant - just something to reduce your aerosol output.

Web Link


Sally
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 18, 2020 at 3:17 pm
Sally, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 18, 2020 at 3:17 pm
12 people like this

Santa Clara County doesn’t care about its elderly and disabled residents at all! Palo Alto’s case rate is 1:1000 with NO testing thanks to the County’s incompetence. Now despite the highest death rate in Northern California. Santa Clara County’s Health Department is the only County in the Bay area Not to mandate face masks. Thanks County leadership and our failed County Supervisors. I am 70 with cancer- did my one hour walk, saw over 200 people- Not One had a mask. Time to recall our Supes.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:52 pm
16 people like this

Some folks seem not to have read the text. The new SMC *requirement* is for people indoors in pubic spaces, e.g. stores. That makes sense. People have to shop, and, don't want other people coughing and wheezing on them. People working in stores shouldn't be subjected to people without masks coughing on them. The order seems pretty rational as written. SCC should do the same.


Resident
Ventura
on Apr 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm
Resident, Ventura
on Apr 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm
1 person likes this

People are reading it, and reacting to these statements: "San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow is now EXPLICITLY REQUIRING residents and essential employees to wear face coverings when out in the public, taking a major step further from the county's April 2 announcement where masks were only a recommendation... Violators of the health order can be CHARGED WITH A MISDEMEANOR" [emphasis added]


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2020 at 1:44 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2020 at 1:44 pm
10 people like this

Posted by Resident, a resident of Ventura

>> People are reading it, and reacting to these statements:

Read it for yourselves right here: Web Link

For example, a Face Covering is required:

" When they are inside of, or in line to enter, any Essential Business (as that term is defined in Section 13.f of the Health Officer’s Order No. c19-5b, dated March 31, 2020 (“Order No. c19-5b”)), including, but not limited to, grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, laundromats, and restaurants; " [...]

" Wearing a Face Covering is recommended but not required while engaged in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling, or running. But each person engaged in such activity must comply with social distancing requirements [...]. "

As I said, please read it. It seems rational, and nuanced, to me.


Breath
Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2020 at 3:54 pm
Breath, Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2020 at 3:54 pm
4 people like this

Here is an interesting article that can hopefully alleviate at least some concerns

Web Link


Robert
Los Altos
on Apr 20, 2020 at 12:16 pm
Robert, Los Altos
on Apr 20, 2020 at 12:16 pm
2 people like this

It's tough to engage in aerobic exercise outside while wearing an effective mask. Just wear something lighter over your mouth and nose like a loose scarf, and avoid areas where you encounter minimal numbers of people --- and then hold your breath and give them a wide berth when passing. Wash your clothing and take a shower when you get home --- and sterilize your shoes.


whatever
Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 2:02 pm
whatever, Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 2:02 pm
2 people like this

To the lady says few cases
According to an article today there are 25 times morr actual infections, thus the 60 in PA reported by the county would more accurately be 1500 in PA.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:19 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:19 pm
Like this comment

Posted by whatever, a resident of Menlo Park

>> According to an article today there are 25 times morr actual infections, thus the 60 in PA reported by the county would more accurately be 1500 in PA.

Link?


MarcusG
another community
on Apr 20, 2020 at 10:39 pm
MarcusG, another community
on Apr 20, 2020 at 10:39 pm
2 people like this

Luckily they are easy to make, but make sure they have two layers. Recent studies also are finding what the best materials - woven materials that doesn't let the sun in. Web Link


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