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Gov. Wolf Says All Pennsylvanians Should Wear a Mask in Public

by on April 03, 2020 3:50 PM

Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday said everyone in Pennsylvania should wear a mask if they must go out in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine emphasized that the most important thing to do remains staying home unless it's absolutely necessary to leave.

“Masks help prevent people from sharing illnesses. But, they don’t do a great job at keeping people from getting sick; and, they’re not foolproof, so it is critical that our first act is to ask ourselves if we really need to leave our house. If we don’t really, truly need to leave, then we shouldn’t,” Wolf said.

Levine said residents should not be using N95 and surgical masks that are needed for medical personnel and first responders, but can use homemade cloth or fabric masks, or even a bandana across the mouth and nose to provide an additional layer of protection. Individuals should also continue regular hand washing, maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance, covering their mouths and noses with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing, avoiding touching their faces and regularly cleaning services.

"A mask isn’t a pass to go back to work or to visit friends or to go out and socialize," Levine said. "A mask is one more tool in our toolbox to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

"Just like washing your hands or covering your cough are effective measures, it’s important to remember your mask protects me against exposure to COVID-19 and my mask protects you against exposure."

The Department of Health has guidance for universal masking on its website, including instructions for making a mask at home.

Masks should be washed or discarded after use and should not be worn when damp or when wet from spit or mucus.

“Wearing a mask will help us cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander, like the grocery store cashier, the pharmacist, or someone stocking shelves,” Wolf said. “These people are keeping us alive by getting us the supplies we need. We owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them safe. Right now, that means wearing a mask.”

The Centers for Disease Control is expected to issue new guidance in the coming days recommending that all people wear masks if they go out in public.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., endorsed the "Masks4All" movement, the first member of Congress to do so. Similarly, he urged Pennsylvanians to stay at home and to not use N95 masks.

“I would encourage people to make sure if you’re going outside, cover up," Toomey said last week. "Cover your nose and mouth. My mask will keep someone else safe and their mask will keep me safe. I’m not suggesting that this is any kind of guarantee and it probably doesn’t have tremendous value for the person wearing the mask. But it probably does significantly reduce the risk that people could inadvertently transmit it.”

The health department reported 1,404 new cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania on Friday, bringing the state's confirmed total to 8,420, including 102 deaths. Centre County has 32 cases, with four new positives confirmed on Friday.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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