Masks (Metro)

Inyo County issued a public health order on Tuesday requiring people to wear facial coverings in "indoor facilities," which includes places of business. The order, which goes into effect on Friday, was issued following the exponential increase in COVID-19 cases the county has seen recently.

The Inyo County Public Health officer on Tuesday issued a health order requiring all individuals in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Inyo County, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings when they enter any indoor public facility.

“Indoor facilities,” according to the county, include, but are not limited to: businesses, government agencies, houses of worship and office buildings.

Implementation of the order is required by 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.

According to the Inyo County Public Health and Prevention, the face covering order will remain in effect until rescinded, in writing, by the Inyo County Health officer. COVID-19 community transmission within Inyo County will continue to be reviewed and assessed on an on-going basis in conjunction with availability and access to health care resources and capacity, case rates week-over-week, and vaccine coverage of the eligible population.

This order was prompted by an exponential increase in Inyo County’s case numbers in both the adult and pediatric population, resulting in the highest case rate in the state of California, 101.4 cases per 100,000 persons (seven-day average, seven-day lag), and a test positivity rate of 20.1% as of Monday.

Currently, approximately 65% of the eligible population in Inyo County is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving almost one third of the vaccine-eligible population, and all children under the age of 12, more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.

The county reported Tuesday that local hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in Inyo County are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 inpatient cases during a time where staffing and capacity is strained.

Guidelines

The county issued the following guidelines are meant to provide clarification for Inyo County residents:

• The purpose of the order is to reduce risk of further impacting ICU capacity in Inyo County and to protect vulnerable populations throughout Inyo County.

• Individuals, businesses, venue operators, or hosts of public indoor settings must require all patrons to wear masks, for all indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status, and post clearly visible and easy to read signage at all entry points to communicate the masking requirements for patrons.

• A governmental entity, business owner, or facility operator should refuse admission or service to any customer or visitor who refuses to wear facial coverings.

Exemptions

According to the county, the following individuals are exempt from wearing masks:

• Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.

• Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for who wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.

• Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

• Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

‘Facial covering’

A “facial covering,” the county notes, must possess the following attributes:

• Be a properly worn mask that completely covers the nose and mouth

• Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source)

• Masks should be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head

• Masks should fit snugly but comfortably against the side and bottom of the face

• Masks should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures

Recommendation: wear a medical mask (also called surgical mask or disposable face mask) when available and appropriately fit.

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