(KION) The California Department of Public Health released new guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against coronavirus.
Health officials recommend that Californians use them when leaving their homes to conduct essential activities, such as seeing a doctor, grocery shopping and going to the pharmacy.
CDPH said people will not be required to wear them, and it still considers social distancing and hand washing the best actions people can take.
It does not recommend using N95 or surgical masks because those are needed for health care workers and first responders. Santa Cruz County health officials suggest using bandanas, fabric masks and neck gaiters, and face covers and bandanas can be washed and used again. They can be factory-made or hand-sewn and can be improvised using other cloth items, but should cover the nose and mouth. Santa Cruz County officials suggest washing them often with detergent and hot water and drying them on a hot cycle. They should be washed after each use and have a dedicated laundry bag or bin.
“Face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing or frequent hand washing, which we know are amongst the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Health Officer. “Wearing a cloth face covering could provide some additional benefit by acting as a reminder for other people to keep their distance, and it could help reduce the spread of infectious particles from those who could be infected but don’t have symptoms.”
CDPH does warn that those who wear face coverings should not have a false sense of security. People are still asked to stay 6 feet away from others when leaving your home. It said the best defenses against the disease are still social distancing; frequent hand washing; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoiding being around sick people.
Santa Cruz County health officials said they have not recommended the large-scale use of face coverings up until this point, but said circumstances have changed.
Some people who have coronavirus do not show symptoms, so it is believed that cloth face coverings could prevent those people from giving it to others. The agency also believes that it could remind people to practice social distancing. Even with a face covering, people could still be at risk of getting coronavirus if they do not continue to practice distancing and hand washing.