Face coverings do not change the need for sheltering at home and physical distancing

Following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department encourages residents to wear cloth face coverings if they are unable to maintain a safe six feet of distance from others when conducting essential activities outside of the home, such as grocery shopping or picking up medicine.

The updated CDC guidance reflects the latest evidence about how Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is spread, sometimes by people who do not feel sick. Wearing a face covering primarily protects the people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. It may also provide some protection for the wearer.

“Staying home as much as possible is the single most important thing you can do to stop the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Health Officer. “Remember to wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, and stay at least six feet away from others if you need to go out. Cloth face coverings can also add another layer of protection, but only if it remains clean.”

Young children (under age two) and people who have difficulty breathing should not wear face coverings. Residents should not use coverings that restrict their ability to breathe.

“Dirty face coverings can do more harm than good,” said Dr. Borenstein. “To keep a face covering clean, wash it at least daily with hot water and soap or detergent. When you get home, remove the covering carefully with clean hands—avoid touching your face—and put it in a sealed bag or container until you can wash it. Wash your hands immediately after removing the mask.”

Health officials remind residents not to purchase surgical and N95 masks, so these medical-grade masks can be available for health care providers. See ReadySLO.org for details on how to make your own face covering and how to safely remove and clean it.

For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center at (805) 543-2444 is available daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for questions related to COVID-19.

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