While wearing some sort of protective mask has been strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, one Texas city has gone a step further.
Last week the city council of Laredo, Texas, issued an emergency ordinance that requires residents to cover their noses and mouths when shopping, taking public transportation — or pumping gas.
The ordinance, which took effect April 2 and continues until April 30, states that anyone over age 5 must “wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandanna or handkerchief when entering into or inside of any building open to the public; when using public transportation, taxis, or ride shares; or when pumping gas.”
Violating this requirement within the city limits of Laredo is considered a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.
Laredo’s ordinance was signed by Mayor Pete Saenz on March 31. Just three days later, President Trump announced new guidelines calling for Americans to wear face coverings such as T-shirts and bandannas when leaving the house, especially in “hot spots” such as New York City or other areas hit hard by the pandemic, according to a story released by the Associated Press (AP).
The AP notes that the recommendation stemmed from concerns among health officials that even people with no symptoms can spread the virus to others, especially in public settings such as grocery stores and pharmacies. With personal protective equipment, including protective masks, in short supply, health officials asked that medical-grade masks be reserved for health care workers and others on the front lines of the pandemic, the story continues.
Following the White House’s recommendation, on April 4 public health officials in California’s Riverside County issued an order, effective April 5-30, for all residents to wear a face covering when leaving home.
A press release issued by the county stated that face coverings can include “bandannas, scarves, neck gaiters or any other clothing that does not have visible holes.” As in the recommendations from President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, residents are advised not to purchase N95 or surgical masks.
In the release, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer, said the order was necessary because even though “more residents are getting COVID-19, not everybody’s getting the message. It started with staying home, social distance and covering your face. But now we change from saying that you should to saying that you must.”
Even while on the road, drivers can easily make a protective face covering with little or no sewing or special equipment required. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams shows how to make a basic mask using a scarf, bandanna or T-shirt in this YouTube video published by the CDC.
The photo above, taken from the CDC’s YouTube video, shows U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams wearing a protective mask made from a T-shirt.