Editor’s note: This story has been updated. Read the new story at this link.
Dr. Rais Vohra, interim Fresno County health officer, signed an order requiring face masks starting Friday.
“All residents shall use cloth masks or equivalent face covering while indoors at work, while visiting a business, or while coming into close contact with someone who is not a family member, in accordance with CDC guidelines to prevent (the) spread of respiratory droplets when physical distancing cannot be maintained,” states the order, which was amended Monday.
District 2 Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau says the order goes too far and he is vowing to fight it.
The Centers for Disease Control recommend cloth face coverings as an “additional, voluntary public health measure” to contain the spread of CVOID-19.
However, the city of Los Angeles, made cloth masks mandatory for anyone shopping or working in early April.
Fines and Jail Time?
The order encourages voluntary compliance but notes that violations are subject to “fine, imprisonments, or both.”
Vohra’s order comes the week following Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims’ announcement that her deputies would not enforce COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing orders.
“We do not stop the public to find out what they’re doing when they’re not sheltering in place. We don’t ask those questions, we don’t ask if they’re ‘essential,’ ” Mims told PowerTalk radio talk-show host Trevor Carey.
Vohra said the order is to help slow the spread of novel coronavirus. Specifically, situations where social distancing is not maintained due to social spacing or professional conditions.
Adults with respiratory illnesses, certain medical conditions, and children under 12 years old are excused from face coverings due to suffocation risk. The order says they should still comply with social distancing of at least 6 feet from others outside their households.
Through 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Fresno County had 1,287 confirmed coronavirus cases, 160 hospitalizations and 17 deaths.
The county is seeking clearance from state officials to proceed with opening up the economy — including opening dine-in restaurants and all retail stores.
Fresno County Supervisor Pushes Back
Brandau responded to Vohra’s order in a Facebook video.
“The Board of Supervisors, in conversations, has made clear that we do not support that (mandatory face masks), and yet it’s in the order,” Brandau said.
Brandau said that board members are working behind the scenes to amend the order. It should be voluntary, not mandatory, he said.
He believes the order is unfair to small businesses: “If you put those restrictions upon them, some customers are simply going to order those products online.”
In addition, board chairman Buddy Mendes told ABC30’s Corin Hoggard that Vohra’s order would be amended to make the masks voluntary.
Just talked to @BuddySupervisor who says this order will be amended to say “should” wear a mask instead of it being mandated by the word “shall.”
One word changes and makes a BIG difference. https://t.co/pQpk4HCr07
— Corin Hoggard (@corinhoggard) May 20, 2020