Contrary to previous recommendations from the CDC, widespread mask-wearing in New York is now advised in tandem with hand-washing and six-feet social-distancing, says Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"We're advising New Yorkers to wear a face covering when you go outside and near other people," de Blasio said at a press conference Thursday. "It can be a scarf, it can be something you create at home it can be a bandanna."
A simple homemade cloth mask (with tightly woven fabric), bandanna or scarf will do as its purpose is to ensure that a potential infected person (who may be walking around asymptotic or presymptomatic) does not pass on the virus to other New Yorkers through a cough or sneeze. The main way that the virus spreads is through droplets, so a cloth mask can help in creating a barrier.
“The reason for this guidance is because the studies are showing that some asymptomatic people, some presymptomatic people, appear to actually be transmitting this disease,” said de Blasio. “We don’t have perfect evidence. It doesn’t conform with what the initial information showed us weeks ago, but it does seem to be more and more evident. What that means is when you put on that face covering, you’re protecting everyone else.”
So, when you head out to do a quick restock on food or a toilet paper run, bring something to cover up.
However, given the need for medical grade face masks in city hospitals, the mayor urged the city, do not to use any masks—like an N-95 or surgical mask— that could be given to a healthcare worker on duty. “We don’t want you to use the kinds of masks that our first responders need, that our healthcare workers need,” he explained. “Don’t use those, can’t be clearer. Leave those alone. Leave those to the people who need them the most who are saving lives.”
NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot advised children should also wear face masks when going outside.
As of now, the only exception to the new mask recommendation is if you are exercising. “During exercising, the recommendation would be again, if they’re able to keep six feet of distance between themselves and everyone else, there’s no need to wear a face covering”, stated Dr. Barbot.