SAN BERNARDINO - Face coverings are no longer required, but are still strongly recommended, in San Bernardino County under a new health order issued Friday afternoon.
At a request by the board of supervisors, the Department of Public Health rescinded the April 23 health order that required face coverings.
Both Supervisor Dawn Rowe, whose jurisdiction includes the Morongo Basin, and board Chairman Curt Hagman said people should continue to cover their mouths and noses when in public.
“What stops the spread of this disease is stopping the spread of droplets, frequently washing your hands and keeping distance and I would encourage Morongo Basin residents to do all of that as much as they can,” Rowe said in a telephone interview Saturday..
“We do know people can have the coronavirus and not know they have it and be asymptomatic, and still pass it on to others,” she said.
“You’re protecting other people’s loved ones (by wearing a mask),” she said. “It’s not just for our well-being, it’s for others’.”
Because the novel coronavirus 2019 is so new, labs are still studying how many people may be infected and able to pass the virus to others without having symptoms themselves.
Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfiled said it could be as many as 25 percent of people with the virus. A lab in Iceland found that as many as 50 percent could be asymptomatic and a study of a cruise ship where there was an outbreak found that about half the infected passengers had no symptoms.
The county “strongly urges” everyone to continue wearing face coverings in public and added that businesses may still require coverings for customers and employees, Hagman said in a released statement.
Rowe compared business’ ability to require masks to their right to enforce “no shoes, no shirt, no service.”
So why rescind the order? Rowe said it was to align the county with the state’s orders, which recommend but do not require masks.
“The bigger picture is the board of supervisors is desiring to have our health orders in line with state orders, so when Governor Newsom recalls them, San Bernardino County can recall them without calling a meeting,” she said.
In a board of supervisors meeting Tuesday, Rowe and Hagman went back and forth about the mask requirement. Rowe was the only supervisor who wore her mask for the entire meetings on Tuesday and Thursday. But she also said mandating, rather than asking, people to wear masks was upsetting many of her constituents.
“I don’t disagree with the guidelines, it’s the mandate,” she said Tuesday.
“I’ve just received a tremendous amount of pushback on that. Make it suggestive, educate us, we’re not stupid, we get it, we’ll wash our hands, we’ll wear our face mask in public, but to mandate it was the issue.”
“When people start thinking the science is made up, then our numbers will go up,” Hagman warned.
“I get the frustration about the mask and the science is very clear about the mask, but it’s not a blanket law to wear it 24/7 even when you’re outdoors. People hopefully use logic and common sense.”
Peer-reviewed studies have shown that surgical masks (the kind worn commonly by doctors and nurses, not N95 respirators) help prevent the spread of droplets carrying infections, including previous coronaviruses.
However, infected people had to be wearing masks consistently and correctly, covering their nose and mouth.