Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) advised residents on Wednesday to wear masks in public as part of the effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Garcetti formally urged residents of Los Angeles to wear masks when running essential errands in public but pleaded Los Angelenos to refrain from getting medical-grade masks.
“We must not contribute to the shortage of these essential personal protective equipment for medical personnel and first responders,” he said during his press conference Wednesday.
Instead, residents should utilize different materials, such as a bandana.
“Research shows even a bandana tucked in can have an effect of slowing down droplets spread,” he said, adding that the coverings only work as an additional safe layer when accompanied by proper social distancing practices.
“I know it will look surreal,” he said, demonstrating the “look” by putting on a black mask of his own. “We’re going to have to get used to seeing each other like this. … This will be the look”:
"This will be the look, so let me lead as mayor."
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti showed Angelanos alternatives to N95 and surgical masks and how to put them on during a Wednesday press conference pic.twitter.com/JLwPFfCM7z
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 2, 2020
Early data suggests many who are infected are not symptomatic, which is why we are recommending you use cloth face coverings plus physical distancing for essential activities.
Do not use surgical and N95 masks, which are reserved for first responders and medical workers.
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) April 2, 2020
Garcetti stressed that his call for residents to don masks in public is not an invitation to needlessly go out in public, as the city remains under a stay-at-home order barring large public gatherings and temporarily closing nonessential businesses like bars and entertainment venues.
“To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn’t an excuse to suddenly all go out,” Garcetti said.
The mayor’s call comes as local leaders across the country take more aggressive actions as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) weighs recommending everyone wear a mask in public.
Health officials in Riverside County, California, for instance, are now recommending a mask “anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses.”
“The rationale for covering one’s face comes from the belief that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual, which fabrics can easily filter,” the press release states.
“This not only helps to reduce the risk a well person can breathe those droplets in, but also protects others around someone with mild symptoms who may not yet realize they have the illness,” it continues.
“Face covering should be worn anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses,” it adds.
Meanwhile, residents in Laredo, Texas, face a fine of up to $1,000 for failing to cover their face or mouth in public. The order is effective April 2 through April 30.