Bay Area health officials recommend combining face coverings with social distancing

Bay Area health officials are now recommending covering your face with cloth in addition to physical distancing and hand washing to prevent transmission of the new coronavirus as you head out for essentials. 

The new guideline was issued on Thursday after days of some debate and mixed messages on whether or not masks should be worn during outings as the pandemic wears on. 

Governor Newsom this week said masks should not be a substitute for social distancing and on Wednesday the mayor of Los Angeles recommended that people wear masks on outings. 

Health officials said the guideline is in alignment with the California Department of Public Health. They did stress that masks or face coverings do not have to be hospital grade, such as the N95, and that personal protective equipment should be reserved for medical staff. 

“Now that the virus is spreading in the community, it is more likely that people with no or mild symptoms may have coronavirus and not know it,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco Health Officer. “Wearing face coverings helps to protect others, and is a great way to be a good neighbor and community member. They are an additional tool, along with physical distancing and hand washing, to reduce transmission of coronavirus.”

The face covering can be a bandana or can be made from a more improvisational material, like a t-shirt, and should cover your nose and mouth on outings like trips to grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential errands. 

The face covering should be washed with detergent after every use with hot water and a hot dry cycle. The covering should be comfortable and well-adusted to your face so you are not having to repeatedly readjust. 

Health officials remind to always wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer, before and after touching your face or face coverings.