Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) now recommend that residents use cloth face coverings when in public to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The guidance is in line with the recommendation issued Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that individuals wear non-medical grade masks or face coverings when out in public areas. The use of face coverings is not mandated.
"It is critical that our residents understand this is an additional recommendation and does not replace physical distancing, staying home when you are sick, covering your cough and sneeze, hand washing, and disinfecting high touch surfaces several times a day, which are our first line of defense in halting the spread of the virus," Gaylor Baird said. "If you must be in public for essential activities - like medical appointments, grocery shopping or picking up medications - wearing a cloth face covering is another preventive measure that can keep our community safer."
LLCHD said residents should not use surgical and N95 masks, unless specifically advised to do so by a medical provider. Surgical and N95 masks are reserved for first responders and medical workers. Those who have medical grade masks are asked to donate them to a medical facility to protect the lives of our medical professionals.
The CDC said there is increased evidence that people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus, and that droplets produced when breathing, speaking, coughing or sneezing may spread COVID-19 from person to person. The CDC said studies show that wearing simple masks or face coverings that cover the mouth and nose can prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses and lower the risk of infection. The effect is greatest when masks are used along with hand washing and social distancing.
LLCHD also issued the following advice:
More information and links to resources on how to make face coverings are available at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov. The COVID-19 hotline is 402-441-8006.