California Issues Order Requiring Masks To Be Worn By People Outside Of The House

( Under a new issue ordered Thursday, all Californians are required to wear a mask outside of their house when they can’t maintain a safe distance from other people.

The California Department of Public Health issued the order on Thursday to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Thursday marked the single largest day of new reported cases in the state.

The health department’s order covers almost a dozen situations for when cloth face coverings are to be required. This includes when people are working inside offices, when people ride public transportation, and when people are indoors or waiting in line to enter an indoor facility.

Masks are also required to be worn by people when they’re outside if they can’t remain at least six feet apart from people who are not members of their household. California joins a list of 10 other states who have similar requirements on masks or face coverings.

Governor Gavin Newsom is firmly behind the new order. He said scientific data supports the fact that masks reduce the risk of infection from coronavirus. He also said wearing masks would be necessary to fully re-start the California economy and get people to return to work. He said:

“Simply put, we are seeing to many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease.”

A study that was recently published in the journal Health Affairs said the states that have required mask use could have potentially averted an additional 230,000 to 450,000 coronavirus cases by the end of May.

While the order won’t change the lives of people in some parts of the state, it is likely to garner pushback in other parts. San Francisco has mandated face coverings since the end of May. Officials in Orange County, though, have received threats recently over a similar local order, and one health officer in the country resigned last week because of it.

Orange County officials said they are reviewing the state-wide order, but they are not happy with it in the meantime. As the chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Michelle Steel, said in a statement:

“The order came as a surprise when the governor had previously announced his support for local control when dealing with the virus.”

In that same statement, Supervisor Dan Wagner said:

“I still maintain a government that is closest to the people governs best, with the public well-served when local control is maintained.”

The state order will be enforceable and punishable as a misdemeanor, according to a spokeswoman for the state’s Health and Human Services Agency, Kate Folmar. That means there could be financial penalties for violating the order. Action could also be taken by other state agencies such as the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

As Folmar explained:

“This is a statewide requirement and flows from the same legal authority as well as other state orders. Californians have done incredible work following those orders — saving lives in the process. We expect that will continue to be the case.”