On June 18 Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order that everyone must wear a mask in public. This came shortly after Stanislaus County was going to issue the same order for the county that was to begin on Monday due to rising cases of COVID-19. The order given by the Governor was to be implemented immediately to help prevent the spread.
“Enforcement will be difficult and what it means to wear a face covering is judgmental,” stated Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien. “While I am not opposed to the order, wearing a face covering for long periods of time is difficult. I relax my covering when alone but don it when being approached indoors and out.”
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a notice on guidance of properly using face coverings with the idea that the order will help stop the spread of COVID-19.
O’Brien explained that the Mayors have provided input to the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services throughout the COVID-19 crisis but ultimately the county has controlled the process. He added that Dr. Julie Vaishampayan provided the direction for the County Health and the County’s CEO Jody Hayes worked closely with the Governor’s Office and CalOES to get their latest direction.
“Sometimes the Governor went solo with his direction,” said O’Brien. “In the case of face covering the Board of Supervisors knew this was coming and delayed action until they had the guidance from the Governor's Office/Cal OES.”
Riverbank City Manager Sean Scully added that the Riverbank City Council has always been very supportive of wearing masks. He said that they understand that there may be times that wearing a mask will be inconvenient or uncomfortable but it is truly for the safety of all.
The document sent out by the CDPH stated that the use of face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing. There were guidelines as to where to wear a mask and the people that were exempt like young children 2 years old and under, people that are hearing impaired, and those with a medical or mental health condition or disability, to name a few.
“What I fear is those that choose not to wear a covering will be confronted by those wearing coverings and these confrontations may become violent as seen in other areas of the U.S.,” expressed O’Brien. “However, I have total confidence that the residents of Riverbank will do the right thing and be respectful in the control of COVID-19.”
Riverbank had 71 cases of COVID-19 as of last Friday and that number can change on a daily basis and so can the rules and regulations. The mayor voiced concerns about the numbers increasing so quickly that they would overwhelm the hospital and their capabilities to handle it.
“What I truly hope is those in our Skilled Nursing Facilities; the patients and staff are properly tested; and proper protocol is followed,” he added.
In the document that was distributed by the CDPH it stated that, “there is scientific evidence to suggest that use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Their primary role is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, washing hands, and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions.”