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More in Sonoma County favor face masks following recommendations from health authorities

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What You Need To Know

Federal, state and Sonoma County health officials now recommend residents wear face coverings when out in public to prevent those who may be infected with coronavirus unknowingly from spreading disease.

Face coverings are not intended to substitute for social distancing, sheltering in place or frequent hand washing.

Surgical masks, N93 respirators and other protective equipment still should be reserved for health care providers.

Cloth masks should consist of multiple layers. They should fit snugly and be washed frequently. They should be disposed of if too loose or torn.

Each mask or covering should only be worn by a single person.

Information about the use of face coverings and some DIY instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.

The Sonoma County Health Officer’s guidance on face coverings can be found here.

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For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

No one is trying to suggest they look chic, but the growing prevalence of face masks in every color and style shows that citizens are adding some flair and forethought as they adjust to shifting recommendations about how to reduce the threat of a global contagion.

New coronavirus guidance over the past several days from federal, state and Sonoma County health officials has prompted a noticeable increase in the number of people donning protective covers over their mouths and noses when they have to leave the shelter of home and go out into the world.

“It just sounds like a good idea,” Guerneville resident Amy Henry said Monday outside the Raley’s grocery store on Fulton Road in west Santa Rosa. She wore a mask she fashioned from cut T-shirt sleeves.

At the Wells Fargo Bank branch on Cleveland Avenue, Christi Watson, 50, sounded a touch more philosophical, her commercially manufactured mask bound tightly to her face.

“We’re all going to need to do it if we want to be here,” said Watson, who has cancer and is extra motivated to stay safe.

In the early weeks of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, the word on masks and their efficacy in preventing viral spread was conflicting at best. The message was shaped in large part by a desire to ensure that scarce supplies of surgical masks, N95 respirators and other commercially manufactured protective equipment were reserved for health care providers whenever possible.

Health officials also want to make sure that people don’t start covering their faces and then grow lax about the strongest defensive actions they can take against COVID-19: frequent hand washing and social distancing.

While scientists say it’s still unclear if face covering can prevent someone from catching coronavirus, there is growing evidence that it may help prevent the spread of the virus from infected individuals who may show no symptoms.

So, the California Department of Health issued a new directive last week in favor of masks and face covering, followed this weekend by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Sonoma County Health Officer Sundari Mase.

“Since not everyone with COVID-19 knows that they are sick, wearing a face covering helps make sure that you are not unknowingly affecting others,” Mase said during an online address Monday. “This can help slow the overall spread of the virus and help keep our community safer.”

Though still not de rigueur in the majority, it’s clear more people than a week ago have taken the extra step to mask up during outings. They include those who already had one — because of work they do or past wildfires — or those who recently made them.

Santa Rosa resident Jean Martin, 56, is one of the latter. After doing a little research online, she stitched together some pieces of cotton print with an iron-on laminate layer in between as a kind of filter.

“I think I’m finding more people wearing them,” she said outside Target at Coddingtown in Santa Rosa.

Nearby, Gary Friend, 69, also of Santa Rosa rocked a black skull-and-crossbones print mask sewn by his former wife.

Forestville resident Mary Ann Harris, who was in the same lot waiting at her car, removed the camouflage kerchief that had been held to her face with elastic hair ties — both pieces borrowed from her daughter.

What You Need To Know

Federal, state and Sonoma County health officials now recommend residents wear face coverings when out in public to prevent those who may be infected with coronavirus unknowingly from spreading disease.

Face coverings are not intended to substitute for social distancing, sheltering in place or frequent hand washing.

Surgical masks, N93 respirators and other protective equipment still should be reserved for health care providers.

Cloth masks should consist of multiple layers. They should fit snugly and be washed frequently. They should be disposed of if too loose or torn.

Each mask or covering should only be worn by a single person.

Information about the use of face coverings and some DIY instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.

The Sonoma County Health Officer’s guidance on face coverings can be found here.

_____

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

“I find they’re hard to breathe in,” said Harris, 70, chuckling. “And they fog up my glasses.”

At Raley’s, Darlene Anderson, 71 said she had done her shopping without wearing her N95 mask, even though she had one with her.

“I know, I was bad,” she said. “I should have worn it.”

Inside the store, she had purchased hair ties she planned to use to turn a cloth square into a more comfortable face covering — similar to one made by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams in a YouTube video posted Friday.

“I’m gonna make some,” she said.

Outside the Safeway at Guerneville and Marlow roads, Daniel Kofman, 20, said about 40% of those in the store had been masked in some way.

He was not among them, despite his parents’ admonitions.

“I wore one last time I was here, but I just felt awkward,” the Santa Rosa man said. “I was the only one.”

Next time, he’ll have on a mask, he said.

It’s clear, however, that there will be continue to be holdouts.

One Wells Fargo customer suggested Monday that while “it makes sense for some people…I don’t do that.”

Henry, the Guerneville woman, said her husband told her “he won’t wear one.”

“I think he’s afraid he’ll look silly,” she said.

One Raley’s shopper said he was so upset that the market’s employees weren’t wearing masks that he called the manager.

Another shopper, asked if she had a mask, said she “just didn’t bring it.”

Many other people said they simply hadn’t heard about the new guidance.

But Ryan Perdue was among those who had heard the news and came prepared. The Roseville construction worker, in town for a job in rural Sonoma County, stood in the line at Wells Fargo wearing an N95 respirator he had from work.

“They said it’s optional,” the 34-year-old said. “But I figured I may as well.”

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