On April 15, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that states:
“Effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020 any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”
This order goes beyond the order that essential workers wear a mask or face-covering when interfacing with the public, and effectively requires all who are in public to cover their faces (nose and mouth). The use of cloth face coverings is important to limit the coronavirus spread from people who may be asymptomatic (that is, they do not know they have the virus and are contagious, because they do not have symptoms) or pre-symptomatic (in the phase of infection before symptoms develop) but contagious.
The NYS department of health advises that when wearing cloth face coverings, New Yorkers should:
- Make sure that they fit snugly and cover their nose and mouth.
- Be changed frequently and laundered when they are soiled or wet.
- Not become complacent with other protective measures.
- Do not touch the cloth covering or face.
- Continue to be vigilant with thorough and frequent hand washing (using soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer of 60%+ alcohol).
- Practice respiratory etiquette and cover your coughs or sneezes.
- Practice social distancing – even when wearing masks.
- Stay home and help flatten the curve!
This guidance goes along with the CDC guidance on face masks, which also notes that when removing a mask, it’s important to avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth, or nose, and to wash hands after removing your mask. Masks should be washed thoroughly between uses.