Governors in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania are ordering their residents to wear facemasks while out in public, as they cautiously begin to prepare Americans for life after lockdown.
“I am issuing an Executive Order today that all people MUST wear a mask or face covering in public in situations where social distancing is not possible,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted on Wednesday.
Face masks or bandanas must be worn on public transport where it is “impossible to maintain social distancing”, or on a busy sidewalk, he added.
From April 18, Maryland residents will be ordered to wear face coverings when inside a shop, or on public transport, governor Larry Hogan announced.
Connecticut governor Ned Lamont tweeted: “Anyone in a public space should make sure that they’re wearing a mask, not only for your own safety but also for those around you.”
Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf said that wearing facemasks is the “second best thing” people could do, after staying at home. He also shared a tutorial for making a face mask at home.
The measures point to states cautiously looking forward to reopening shuttered businesses as soon as it is safe to do so. President Trump, who has lamented the economic cost of life-saving social distancing measures, will reveal his steps for reopening the economy, on Thursday.
Hogan issued an executive order on face masks on Wednesday, and said: “While this order is an important step in our immediate efforts to protect public health and safety, the wearing of masks is also something that we may all have to become more accustomed to in order to safely reopen our state.”
The CDC has published guidelines on its website on how to create your own face covering, which you can find here.
640,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus to date, while more than 30,000 people who tested positive for the disease, have died, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. According to a Reuters tally, some 50 doctors and nurses have died in the U.S. after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
As the coronavirus pandemic gained a tighter grip on much of the world, there has been much debate about just how effective face masks are, who needs to wear them, and when. The CDC now advises that people wear face coverings, as well as keeping a 6 feet distance when in public. This is to slow the spread of the virus, which is transmitted through infected droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking. It is also crucial in stopping asymptomatic people from transmitting the virus.
The sudden surge in demand for facemasks and other personal protective equipment has led to global shortages, particularly among medical staff, where it is most needed. The shortage has prompted fashion companies and at-home sewers to make and donate non-medical grade face coverings to meet demand of the general population, and help protect the stocks of surgical masks, N-95 respirators and medical grade PPE for medical workers.