Wearing any type of face covering -- from surgical masks to bandanas -- when conducting everyday affairs is a recommended precaution while the novel coronavirus continues to spread, Riverside County health officials said Tuesday.
"Stay in your place, maintain your space and cover your face," county Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton said, coining a new county government phrase.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is weighing a revision in COVID-19 protection guidelines that includes a recommendation that people wear face protection.
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Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the new recommendation locally stems from coronavirus infections "increasing even sooner than we predicted."
"That means our strategy must change too," Kaiser said. "Covering your face doesn't change the orders everyone must abide by to stay home as much as possible and maintain social distancing, but it's an extra layer of protection that I think we need to add."
Officials said any type of covering will work -- fabric masks, bandanas, neck gaiters and other disposable or reusable accessories.
"The rationale for covering one's face comes from the belief that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual, which fabrics can easily filter,'' according to a Riverside University Health System statement. ``This not only helps to reduce the risk a well person can breathe those droplets in, but also protects others around someone with mild symptoms who may not yet realize they have the illness."
The agency recommended that residents wear covers when they're shopping, going to the bank, walking around the workplace or seeing to other concerns outside the home.
Officials also re-emphasized the importance of maintaining a six-foot buffer from the nearest person, frequent hand-washing and self-isolating whenever possible to safeguard health.