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Coronavirus: Will Californians be required to wear face masks in public?

Public health officials are not suggesting taking masks away from hospitals facing shortages, but said even homemade masks are better than nothing.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Is it time to wear a face mask in public?

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, said he plans to announce in the coming days new guidelines on wearing masks.

It comes after federal health officials said they're considering new mask recommendations, following other countries that have been able to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Public health officials are not suggesting taking masks away from hospitals facing shortages, but said even homemade masks are better than nothing.

They've become a symbol of the coronavirus pandemic, but from the beginning- face masks have also been the source of much confusion.

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“I really don't think the general population should be bringing masks with them and wearing them,” said Kaiser Permanente Chief of Infectious Disease Christopher O’Brien.

“There's no role for these masks in the community,” said CDC Director Robert R Redfield.

Until now, masks were discouraged for healthy people, and used as shields to protect medical professionals from catching the virus. Masks were recommended only for the sick, or anyone caring for them.

Not anymore.

“You know you can use a scarf. Everybody, a lot of people have scarves, scarves would be very good,” said President Trump.

The president is encouraging do-it-yourself face covers, leaving the N95 masks for healthcare workers facing a critical shortage.

The governor of California is also taking a closer look at recommendations, referring to the Czeck Republic's approach.

“Other parts of the globe have moved aggressively to advance protocols on face masks,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

The hashtag #masksforall promotes the idea that homemade masks can be partially protective.

A research scientist from the University of San Francisco created a video showing how he makes his own masks out of t-shirts.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post over the weekend, Jeremy Howard pointed to, "34 scientific papers indicating basic masks can be effective in reducing virus transmission in public."

Apparently, even science is debatable.

“We want to be guided by science and I’ll just say this respectfully science is a bit incomplete in this space,” said Governor Newsom.

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BACKGROUND: 

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing. 

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

  • Stay home when you are sick. 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. 

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask.