Health leaders now recommend people wear a mask to combat COVID-19

Leading health experts now recommend people wear a mask when they must leave the house to help combat COVID-19.

Riverside County Health leaders are some of the first in Southern California to officially make the recommendation. That’s because the county has more than 430 coronavirus cases. Forty of those patients have made a full recovery but 13 people have died. 

"Right now our cases are above our modeling which is scary because that’s pretty high already," said Riverside County Health Department Spokesman Jose Arballo. "It is our thought that we need to be bold in our decision-making."

Covering your face and nose should serve not as a false sense of security but an added layer of protection, along with socially or physically distancing and staying at home, except for essentials. As Riverside County leaders now say in: Stay in your place, maintain your space, cover your face.

Leading medical experts urge the public to save medical-grade N95 masks for hospital and essential workers and use a regular mask, bandana, scarf or even a piece of clothing that you can wash regularly.

In the latest press conference held by Governor Newsom, California’s Public Health Director says a mask can limit the transmission of infected respiratory droplets.

"There is some evidence that using face coverings may reduce asymptomatic infections," said Dr. Sonia Angell. "It also may signal to others that you need to keep a little bit of distance."

Los Angeles County Public Health experts echoed the recommendation in their latest briefing as a way to help prevent coronavirus.

"It’s just another tool that we can add to our list of tools that are available to help us prevent infecting others and help others from infecting us," says L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

L.A. and Riverside County health leaders are expecting new guidelines, including those that relate to face covering, to come down from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later this week.

Riverside County just opened its third COVID-19 testing site and has tested a total of more than 5,000 residents so far. To get tested, first make an appointment by calling 1-800-945-6171. County leaders say testing wait times are about 10-15 minutes.