Vohra Makes Face Masks Voluntary After Supervisors Push Back
Dr. Rais Vohra, interim Fresno County health officer, is amending his early order requiring all residents to wear cloth face masks while shopping or indoors at work.
Instead, county residents are encouraged to wear face coverings in those situations.
Vohra’s original order, which was signed Monday but didn’t become public until today, generated pushback from Fresno County District 2 Supervisor Steve Brandau and other supervisors.
Brandau vowed to fight the original order — and succeeded.
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“Please note that the masking guidance in the updated Health Officer Order is a recommendation, NOT a mandate. We are in the process of clarifying the language … from ‘All residents shall use cloth masks ….’ to ‘All residents should use cloth masks,’ ” Fresno County spokesman Jordan Scott said in a news release.
“While this masking guidance is not a mandate, we continue to urge the public to voluntarily comply with the masking recommendations in the interests of public health and safety and to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
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.
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Reason for the Order
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.
Related Story: Masks to Become Part of Life in California, but Rules Vary
Fresno County Supervisor Pushes Back
Brandau responded to Vohra’s original 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 were working behind the scenes to amend the order. It should be voluntary, not mandatory, he said.
He said the mandatory order was unfair to small businesses: “If you put those restrictions upon them, some customers are simply going to order those products online.”
My response to the face mask mandate.
Posted by Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau on Wednesday, May 20, 2020