The Health Officer of Alameda County put out an order on Friday, Apr. 17 requiring everyone to wear a face-covering while outside of the home, both indoors at work or outdoors in public.
The order allows a grace period until 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 22, at which time violation of the order will become a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
The use of face coverings is required in the following situations: being at an essential business or in line to go in, being at a facility for minimum basic operations or essential government functions, doing essential infrastructure work, receiving health care service, waiting for or riding public transportation.
“Face coverings” are defined in Order No. 20-08 as “a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face.”
Medical grade masks such as N95 masks and surgical masks are currently in short supply. The County requests the public to save those masks for health care providers and first responders.
The order exempts children twelve years and younger from wearing a face covering and especially warns that children two years or younger should not wear one due to the risk of suffocation.
Other exceptions include people in a car (alone or with members of their household) and people engaged in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, biking, or running. Although, it is recommended to carry a face covering with you in case you need it later.
Face coverings should be washed regularly depending on the frequency of use; a washing machine is sufficient. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns to be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing the face covering and to wash hands immediately after removing.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is largely transmitted in the respiratory droplets expelled when sneezing or breathing. People infected with the COVID-19 virus can be contagious for up to 48 hours before showing symptoms. In fact, many people only develop mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, all while being equally contagious.
For these reasons, the CDC, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) have recommended wearing a face covering, in combination with sheltering in place, physical distancing of at least 6 feet, and frequent hand washing.
The City of Hayward announced Apr. 20 that it had acquired 10,000 masks for distribution to essential local businesses. Representatives for the essential local businesses can request masks through Hayward’s COVID-19 hotline at (510) 583-4949 or by filling out a form on the City of Hayward website.
Interim Chancellor Ron Gerhard sent out an email to the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, alerting colleagues to the health order and instructing employees to have their supervisor either approve their homemade face coverings or issue a new one from the district’s limited supply.
The Hayward Police Department co-signed the Apr. 20 joint news release with other City of Hayward departments but avoided mention of enforcement. The San Leandro Police Department relayed the announcement from Alameda County Health Department but also did not speak on its plans to enforce the order.
The Alameda County Health order includes a link to the CDC website, where people can find instructions on making face coverings from materials at home.