Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

With COVID-19 cases rising, California governor orders residents to wear masks in public

Amid concerns that an increase in coronavirus cases in California is linked to residents not voluntarily wearing masks, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday ordered that everyone in the state wear masks while in public spaces.

"Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered, putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease," Newsom, the first governor to issue a stay-at-home order in March, said in a statement. "California's strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing."

Recently, several counties rescinded their requirements that residents wear masks in public, and Newsom did not say how his order will be enforced or if there will be penalties for those who ignore it. There are also some exceptions — people with medical issues that prevent them from wearing a mask will not have to wear one, nor will the hearing impaired or those who communicate with them, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Prior to Thursday, state public health officials had merely been recommending that people wear face coverings. Studies have shown that by wearing a mask, it decreases the risk of spreading the coronavirus. "As Californians venture into our communities more, wearing face coverings is another important way we can help protect one another," State Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell said.