No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service.
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has prompted many to purchase or make their own masks for the safety of themselves and those around them. Many counties, cities and businesses in California have mandated that citizens or customers wear a mask when in public.
Bordering counties including Yolo and Contra Costa require a face covering for anyone leaving their home. In Riverside County and San Bernardino County, residents are at risk of a $1,000 fine for not wearing a face covering in public.
Los Angeles County has required masks since April 10, causing San Francisco county to adopt similar requirements on April 17. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg hopes his city will follow suit soon.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines for what defines a face covering. They state that cloth face coverings should fit snugly against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric and be able to be washed or laundered.
While masks have been optional for Sacramento County residents, Steinberg wants to require masks as the city opens up more businesses to prevent another spike in cases.
“It is going to be even more important that when we are out in public that we have that extra layer of protection, not just for ourselves but for each other, and wear masks,” Steinberg said in a recent Facebook live announcement. “And I am going to call on our county health officials to change that mask order, the mask issue, from voluntary to mandatory.”
Despite the voluntary nature of the mask issue in Sacramento, many students have found themselves encouraged to wear masks by their parents and public health experts.
Some of Sacramento’s youth have taken up concern for the health of others and wear masks by their own choosing.
“I wear masks only when going to populated areas such as Lowes and grocery stores but not when I’m exercising,” sophomore Julian Doyle said. “I think they are important for our own personal health as well as courtesy for others.”
Exercise has been an area for debate on the mask issue, as cloth coverings can impede on one’s ability to breath during intense workouts. Since masks are not yet mandatory in public yet, it is up to those exercising around public parks or trails to decide if they want to wear a mask.
For others, wearing a mask is the only way to achieve a bit of freedom in their otherwise isolated day to day life.
“My parents are strict about masks because my dad is more susceptible to COVID-19 because of his medication,” said senior Ava Harrison. “At first it was really weird to wear a mask everywhere but now so many other people are wearing masks that it almost feels normal.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, a simple face covering can help prevent the spread of the disease when accompanied by social distancing and other precautions. The clinic stresses the importance of masks for everyone because people can be asymptomatic yet carry the disease.
Health professionals recommend that for masks to be most effective, people should avoid touching their mask while wearing it and wash their hands immediately after removing it. Experts also say that homemade and cloth masks should be washed regularly, which are becoming more common as medical staff need disposable surgical masks and California moves into Stage 2 of lifting the stay-at-home order in place.
“I believe that a mandatory mask requirement ought to accompany that opening up,” said Mayor Steinberg.
As stores, restaurants and other services in the area begin to open up, masks may become a normalcy when leaving the house.