Mayor: Masks not mandated but strongly recommended in Santa Clarita

A man carries an umbrella and wears a mask as a light rain falls in the Rite Aid parking lot in Saugus on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Wearing masks in Santa Clarita is not mandated but strongly encouraged amid the coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Cameron Smyth said Wednesday during a live Facebook broadcast. 

“At this point in the county of Los Angeles, it has not been mandated that the masks be worn,” he said. “But we certainly strongly encourage it if you have one, and if that order changes, we will certainly let everyone know as soon as the order comes down.”

His announcement comes after some residents questioned why Santa Clarita had not established an order requiring people to wear masks when outside, such as the city of Los Angeles recently did. 

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti mandated that both shoppers and workers, such as at grocery stores, must wear face masks. 

Smyth reiterated that although the city of Los Angeles had issued the order, it would not apply locally. 

“Please keep in mind that anything that is being directed for the city of Los Angeles is only within the city of Los Angeles,” he said. “Santa Clarita, from a public health standpoint, we fall under the guidelines of the county Department of Public Health.” 

Santa Clarita does not have its own department of public health, “and so we take our directions from them,” said Smyth. 

As of Wednesday morning, the county had only recommended wearing face masks, specifically cloth face coverings rather than N95 respirators, because “we have a short supply and we must have them for our health care workers so that they can be protected when they protect us when we need medical care,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in a live county briefing last week. 

As cities like Los Angeles and, most recently, San Bernardino County issue their mandatory face-covering orders, the Centers for Disease and Prevention has only made it optional while addressing that medical-grade respirators should only be used by medical professionals. 

“The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as a voluntary health measure,” said President Donald Trump during a previous White House live briefing. “It is voluntary. The CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade or surgical-grade masks.” 

As California prepares for a surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the state has secured a supply of 200 million N95 respirators and surgical masks a month for health care and other frontline workers. 

Health officials remind the public that the most effective practice in helping prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is to keep social distance and frequent handwashing.

For all local coronavirus-related stories, visit: signalscv.com/2020/03/covid-19-coverage-summary.

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