Imperial County officials have issued a new health officer order requiring all residents and visitors of the county to wear cloth face coverings when leaving their homes or shelters where they are likely to come in contact with other members of the public, according to an April 9 press release.
The coverings are required when visiting places such as grocery stores, department stores like warehouse and hardware stores, pharmacies, restaurants and other businesses that allow public access, states the joint release from the Imperial County Public Health Department and the Imperial County Executive Office.
The use of face coverings is also required for all critical infrastructure workers, who while working at their respective places of employment, are likely to have direct contact with other members of the public, or for whatever reason are unable to maintain a minimum of six feet separation with other co-workers at all time, the release continued.
The new order is in addition to the previously released orders. The order is scheduled to take effect at 11:59 p.m. April 10. The order will remain in effect until further notice.
Imperial County officials do not recommend that the public use medical masks (N-95s and surgical masks) which are in short supply and must be reserved for frontline healthcare providers. It is important to note that violation of this order is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or by a jail term up to 90 days, for each violation, the release states.
“What we know about COVID-19 continues to evolve. This new order is based on updated CDC guidance which shows that the use of face coverings may help reduce the spread of the illness by those who are infected but have not yet started to feel sick,” Imperial County Public Health Officer, Dr. Stephen Munday, stated in the press advisory.
“Social distancing and frequent handwashing still remain the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. The use of a face covering is an added safety measure and not a replacement for those practices,” Munday stated.
“The decision to require all residents and visitors to wear face coverings is meant to protect our community from the potential spread of COVID-19. I ask that everyone continue to stay home, but if you must leave, remember to use a face covering,” stated county Board of Supervisors Chairman Luis Plancarte.
Recommended face coverings include any type of breathable material, such as bandanas, scarves, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towels that can be used to cover the nose and mouth. Face coverings should be washed after each use with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. Ideally, after each use, face coverings should be placed in dedicated laundry bag or bin until washed.
Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unable to remove the cover without assistance.
Tutorials and directions on how to make a face covering may be found at the following websites:
Stay at home and do not leave except for essential activities (i.e., grocery shopping, picking up medication, attending medical appointments).
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your arm
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet from others that are not in your immediate household.
For general questions or information about COVID-19 and precautions currently recommended by the Imperial County Public Health Department, the community may call the department’s information line at 442-265-6700 or visit www.icph.org