To Wear or Not Wear a Mask: The Conflicting Message from State Officials

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UPDATE ON APRIL 2: San Diego County leaders updated a public health order to include guidelines on face mask usage. The general public was urged to use cloth facial coverings while in public places and required businesses with employees that interact with the public to do so. To read the latest guidance, click here.

Should you wear a mask out in public? It’s a question crossing the minds of many caught at the divide on whether it will help or hurt in the fight against the coronavirus.

For weeks, officials have urged community members to avoid buying masks, saying such purchases rob healthcare workers of desperately needed protective wear at the front lines. But Wednesday, state leaders echoed a different sentiment, seeing the potential benefits masks could afford the average person.

At his daily news conference along with state officials, Governor Gavin Newsom stressed the importance of social distancing and the additive quality masks could bring to the equation. The Director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Sonia Angell, broke down the pros and cons, saying face masks could reduce asymptomatic transmission and decrease exposure to infectious particles but ultimately fall short in granting full immunity from infection. Angell also warned that unwashed hands could still lead to infection even with a mask on.

San Diegans were mystified over the mask dilemma, still debating whether or not to wear one despite knowing the messaging from state officials. One couple said they chose to put their masks on right after hearing Newsom’s Wednesday comments and felt more comfortable donning a mask than walking the streets fresh-faced.

“I think in these times nothing is confusing," the man said.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher also addressed face coverings during the county’s daily news conference, and he’s expected to make additional comments on what to do in the days ahead.

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