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Public Health releases revised face covering order

The Plumas County Public Health Agency released a revised face covering order today, May 13, after receiving a lot of negative feedback about the first advisory. Both Public Health Officer Mark Satterfield, who authorized the original order, and Sheriff Todd Johns, whose job it became to educate/enforce it, discussed the situation during the Board of Supervisors May 12 meeting.

While both men emphasized the importance of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly as more businesses open and people begin traveling again, they said that it caused confusion and put some individuals in a potentially dangerous position.

Public Health recognized those concerns and issued the following statement: “Most of our citizens have been great about wearing facial covering when in public spaces. However the original order encouraged owners/mangers of businesses and their clerks to deny service to people without masks. That was not OK for at least two reasons: 1) It made people who weren’t wearing a mask, even for a medical reason, feel angry, unwanted and disrespected when they sought legitimate service, and 2) It put store owners/managers and clerks in an order enforcement role that they should not be in. We apologize for that and have removed that part of the order.”

The order is four pages long and can be read in its entirety by going to the public health agency’s website https://www.plumascounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/26241/PCPHA-Health-Officer-Order-Face-Covering-Modified-Signature, but following are the basics of what you need to know if you go out in public:

A facial covering means a covering made of fabric or permeable materials, without holes, that covers the nose, mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. It should not obscure the wearer’s eyes. Some examples include a scarf, bandana, neck gaiter, homemade covering from a T-shirt, sweatshirt or towel, or a mask (which need not be medical grade). Note: any mask incorporating a one-way valve, designed to facilitate easy breathing, does not qualify because droplets can be expelled, putting others at risk.

All members of the public, except as specifically exempted, must wear a face covering when they are in stores, restaurants, government agencies, other places of business or in an outside public space where social distancing can’t be maintained. It also applies to workers in those establishments. (Full details are listed in the ordinance.)

Children aged 2 or under must not wear a face mask due to suffocation risk.

Wearing a face covering is recommended but not required while engaged in outdoor exercise such as walking, hiking, biking, or running. An individual should have a face covering available in the event that circumstances bring them into a situation where social distancing isn’t possible. Because running or bicycling causes people to more forcefully expel airborne particles, the minimum 6 feet of distance isn’t adequate.

A person does not need to wear a face covering while driving alone or exclusively with other members of same family.Those with health reasons or in a situation where it could put them at risk at work are not required to wear a covering.

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