O.C. health officials recommend facial coverings for employees at essential businesses, residents who leave home

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Orange County health officials on Thursday issued a “strong” recommendation that employees at essential businesses wear a face covering at work and urged residents do the same when away from their homes in another attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The guidance is in line with the statewide recommendation from the California Department of Public Health, but stops short of ordering people to wear some type of mask that covers the nose and mouth while in public, as other Southern California counties and cities have done in recent days.

Facial coverings aren’t intended to replace physical distancing measures, but are meant to serve as additional protection away from home. Officials hope such masks will help curb the coronavirus’ spread, particularly among those who show no symptoms.

To date, Orange County has reported 1,079 cases of COVID-19, with 17 deaths, according to the county’s Health Care Agency. As of Thursday, 127 people remain hospitalized and 63 are intensive care units.

With N95 masks and surgical masks still in short supply at hospitals, officials are urging people to turn to factory-made or homemade materials to comply with orders and recommendations regarding facial coverings.

“Residents can make their own face coverings at home from a variety of materials and should refrain from purchasing personal protective equipment that is critical and in short supply for our healthcare workers, such as N95 and surgical masks,” Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said in a news release.

The face covering should shield the nose and mouth, and be securely fastened to the head with ties or straps, or wrapped around the face. People can make their own from materials like scarves, T-shirts, sweatshirts or even towels, the release stated.

Quick also reminded residents to continuing practicing other proven protective measures, including washing hands frequently, not touching your face, social distancing and staying at home except to perform essential activities and errands.

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