NYC residents told to cover mouth, nose with scarves, bandannas or clothing when in public to stop coronavirus spread
People stand in line while wearing face masks in Elmhurst, Queens. New York City residents should cover their faces with scarfs, bandannas or clothing when in public to stop the spread of coronavirus, Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.
New York City residents should cover their faces with scarves, bandannas or clothing when in public to stop the spread of coronavirus, Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.
But Hizzoner said surgical and N95 masks should be reserved for health care providers, first responders and those on the front lines of the pandemic.
“We’re advising New Yorkers to wear a face covering when you are going outside and are near other people," de Blasio said at a briefing Thursday. “It could be a scarf, it could be something you create yourself at home. It could be a bandanna. It does not — not — need to be a professional surgical mask ... Don’t use those ... leave those alone."
Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot recommended cloth face coverings, “the less fancy, the better." But she said the city wouldn’t stop anyone from wearing surgical and N95 face masks, even if health care workers are the most in need.
The coverings should be used for a day and washed with soap and water, according to Barbot, and no one should share them.
Barbot said children should use face coverings and that making them was “an opportunity to teach them about COVID-19," as well as “instill in them the role that these face masks play as part of our civic responsibility.”
City officials stressed that face coverings shouldn’t replace social distancing and that New Yorkers should continue to keep 6 feet from others.
“These face coverings are not a substitution for all of the layers of prevention we have been talking about," Barbot said.
De Blasio said they’re only advising residents to don face coverings and that the city won’t fine or enforce the recommendation. He said city personnel are already busy breaking up crowds and enforcing social distancing measures, which can carry fines up to $500 for those failing to follow them.
“I am not anticipating enforcement at this point,” he said. “We have much more important things to achieve with enforcement.”
The new guidance comes after research showed those with COVID-19 who aren’t showing symptoms could infect others.
"The studies are showing some asymptomatic, some pre-symptomatic people appear to be transmitting the disease,” de Blasio said.
The mayor and public health officials have previously said wearing a face covering is unnecessary for those without coronavirus symptoms.
“With regards to the utility of masks for everyday New Yorkers that are not symptomatic, the concern is that it provides a false sense of security,” Barbot said March 10.
“Where we believe the masks are necessary are for folks who are constantly working with people in a health care setting, for example, on folks who are already sick to protect them from spreading,” de Blasio added March 10. “But it is a free country; if someone wants to wear a mask because it makes them feel better that’s alright.”
De Blasio said Thursday the city didn’t recommend face coverings sooner because “evidence just wasn’t there before."