LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti echoed an announcement from leaders in Riverside County Wednesday recommending people wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus.
"We are now recommending that Angelenos use homemade face coverings when they are in public and interacting with others," said Garcetti.
"I know it will look surreal. We're going to have to get used to seeing each other like this," Garcetti said as he put on a black cloth mask during his daily coronavirus briefing.
"To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn't an excuse to suddenly all go out."
Garcetti said state health officials were waiting for guidance from the CDC before making the official announcement regarding masks.
"I’ve finally said today, I don’t want to wait any longer," Garcetti said.
The announcement could impact hospitals already struggling to keep masks and gloves in stock for medical staff.
"When you go out, we are recommending that we use non-medical grade masks or facial coverings, and not take the ones that are reserved for our first responders," Garcetti said.
"We're working with logistics companies and FEMA to secure the(medical) masks and the personal protective equipment they need to serve all of us and protect their lives," Garcetti said. "When the crisis gets worse, the last thing that we want is for them not to have the life-saving equipment they need to save our lives."
Marc Kerner, a doctor who is the Medical Director for CalWest Head and Neck Surgical Institute, and the former Chief of Surgery at Northridge Hospital, believes everyone should wear a mask no matter their profession.
"I understand they’re trying to preserve the masks for healthcare workers, but people have to preserve their own health," Kerner said.
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Kerner has been an advocate for wearing masks since coronavirus started spreading though he said he respects the CDC.
"I think it’s very, very helpful to reduce the speed and reduce the transmission," Kerner said.
Kerner said people can make masks at home using a bandana or a piece of cloth. He said adding a portion of an air conditioning filter will also help protect people.
“You can take something as simple as air conditioning filters and you can carefully cut out this material and actually either tape it to a mask or staple it to the front of a mask,” he said.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 22: People, some wearing face masks, walk in Griffith Park with the Hollywood sign behind them on March 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a ‘stay at home’ order for California
Health experts said masks are not a substitute, but another layer of protection. Masks, social distancing, and hand-washing are all recommended to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Garcetti said 400 garment and apparel manufacturers have pledged to soon make about 2 million cloth masks per week for essential workers, such as grocery store employees, in an attempt to protect them from the coronavirus. The manufacturers signed up through LA Protects manufacturing initiative website that Garcetti announced last week, laprotects.org.
Garcetti also said he has directed the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to cut off utilities to non-essential businesses refusing to comply with executive orders to curb the spread of COVID-19.
City News Service contributed to this report