CDC, cities urge face mask use

The Centers for Disease Control [CDC] is now encouraging Americans to wear homemade cloth masks when they are out performing essential tasks, and local municipalities are advising residents and visitors to do the same.

Wilton Manors, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Pompano Beach have all regularly updated their websites with news regarding COVID-19 and emergency orders. Recently, information was shared on social media regarding the CDC’s new recommendations.

According to Lighthouse Point Mayor Glenn Troast, city staff held a meeting the morning of April 9 which included a discussion about cloth masks. He has already sent out an email to residents and the CDC’s new guidelines were also shared on social media.

The City of Oakland Park released an emergency order for residents and visitors to wear cloth face masks while outside their homes, as opposed to surgical masks and N95 masks that “should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.” These guidelines are “strongly urged,” according to the order, and “may be” enforced by law enforcement agencies.

Deerfield Beach has not only put out a recommendation to the community to wear a cloth mask, but also warned that throwing personal protective equipment on the ground is a biohazard and is considered littering – a misdemeanor charge that can lead to a $500 fine, 60 days in jail or both, according to the city’s website.

Not all cities are opting to put out an order regarding facemasks, however.

Hillsboro Beach Mayor Deb Tarrant said she’s not in favor of an order urging residents to wear face masks. “I don’t want our police to have to enforce this.” Town Manager Serda said the face mask issue is “more relevant in cities that have stores.” There are no businesses in Hillsboro Beach.

On its website, cdc.gov, the CDC has step-by-step instructions on how to make masks at home. This is not to protect yourself from others, according to the CDC, but rather to protect others from you, as a percentage of those with COVID-19 have been asymptomatic. On the other hand, the World Health Organization’s stance on facemasks has not changed – only those who are sick, or who are in close contact with individuals who are sick, should wear masks.

Masks are recommended for when people have to perform important tasks, such as going to the grocery store or an essential job.

To taper the spread of COVID-19, the best bet is simply to stay home and quarantine.

“People need to be careful,” Troast said. “Social distancing and staying home is your best choice right now.”

Originally published in The New Pelican Newspaper.

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