|Masks or Face Coverings Required Statewide by April 17|
|What had previously been a best practice will soon be a legal obligation, as Governor Cuomo announced a new Executive Order to require masks or face coverings whenever in public or in a situation where six-foot social distancing cannot be maintained (such as on public transportation or at the grocery store). The CDC urges people to avoid using medical-quality masks that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other frontline workers. We are encouraged to use a cloth (like a handkerchief) which covers both our nose and mouth. The new requirement will go into effect on Friday, April 17.|
I believe this is an important public health practice, but I am very concerned about what is evidently a nationwide shortage of masks. I am also concerned that wearing face coverings will give people a false sense of security that they are protected from COVID-19 when in fact they still need to be careful about what they touch.
Most severely, there are many essential workers who do not currently have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks. I am loathe to sound like a broken record, but the acquisition, production, and distribution of PPE on a national scale requires the active participation and support of the federal government. It is heartbreaking to hear so many people worried for themselves or their loved ones who are going work and don’t have access to sufficient equipment to keep themselves as safe as can be.
The CDC has provided instructions on how you can make your own cloth face covering here.
The precise language of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order has not been posted yet, but here is the relevant press release for more context here.