A month ago, most Angelenos probably couldn’t picture themselves wearing a face mask while doing their grocery shopping or picking up medicine from the pharmacy. Now our Mayor says it should be your new normal.
During his Wednesday afternoon update, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a recommendation that all Angelenos should wear non-medical grade facial coverings when they leave their homes for essential activities. The recommendation comes under the guidance of Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
The distinction between non-medical grade masks and the N95 masks needed by doctors and nurses is an important one to underscore, given the severe shortage of personal protective equipment. As of last week, L.A. County’s stockpile of N95 masks had been completely depleted. Public officials were advising medical workers to reuse face masks and wear expired gowns and masks, according to the L.A. Times.
While non-medical grade masks don’t offer the same protection as N95s, Garcetti explained that the use of these masks could still be important in stopping the spread of respiratory droplets that carry the virus.
“Research shows even having a bandana tucked in can have an effect of slowing down droplet spread,” Garcetti said.
He also emphasized—more than once—that wearing a facial covering isn’t an excuse to ignore the physical distancing mandate or gather in groups, but rather an added tool that could increase the effectiveness of these measures.
To ramp up the production of masks for the public, the city has approved 147 businesses to produce non-medical face masks. Garcetti said more than 2 million masks can be produced per week.
As of April 1, there are 3,518 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Los County, according to the Public Health Department. 65 people have died as a result.