As we near the Ohio peak of the coronavirus outbreak, government leaders are working to develop the guidelines around the re-opening of the local economy. One of the areas of debate is shaping up to be around the public wearing of masks.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that all New Yorkers will be required to wear masks or have their mouth and nose covered while out in public and where you cannot maintain the 6-foot social distancing rule. The governor said there could potentially be civil penalties if there is widespread non-compliance.
As for Ohio, so far both Gov. DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton have only ‘strongly suggested’ the wearing of masks while out in public. However in Thursday’s press conference, DeWine said wearing masks, “will be part of what we do until we’re done with this virus in a year or so.”
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That has business owners expecting mandatory mask rules to be part of re-opening guidelines which the Governor says will begin slowly, starting May 1.
Despite the official urging as to the importance of wearing masks in public, a quick trip to the supermarket shows compliance rates fairly low as of this date. This may be due to the relative shortage of mask availability or to public confusion surrounding early declarations from public health officials, including the U.S. Surgeon General, that ‘masks do not work for the general public’.
Yet Gov. DeWine in remarks Friday said the wearing of masks will be commonplace by both workers and consumers and ‘part of our daily lives for some time to come’.
Adding to the confusion, the Surgeon General doubled down in comments to FoxNews Tuesday saying, “”What the World Health Organization and the CDC have reaffirmed in the last few days is that they do not recommend the general public wear masks,” Adams told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “There was a study in 2015 looking at medical students. And medical students wearing surgical masks touch their faces on average 23 times. We know a major way that you can get respiratory diseases like coronavirus is by touching a surface and then touching your face.”
Despite the changing narrative, state officials are widely expected to make the wearing of face masks part of our lives for the near future. The only question is whether this will come in the form of a legal declaration with enforcement penalties