20200331-bc-COVID_19 (copy)

Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop spoke at a news conference about COVID-19 March 30 at the Kern County Public Health Services building.

Kern County officials are asking businesses to make the wearing of face masks a requirement for service.

The urgent request was made as the county teeters in and out of compliance with state coronavirus guidelines that could result in measures being taken should cases rise.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an order requiring the wearing of masks in most public spaces. On Wednesday, the governor threatened to withhold $2.5 billion in funding from local governments that don't uphold state mask requirements.

Despite the increased number of cases since the county began reopening, Kern officials said during a Thursday news conference that the county was doing a good job responding to COVID-19, and the risk of contracting the virus while in public was low as long as businesses and patrons followed state guidelines.

“Businesses, you can be a helpful participant in this endeavor in our community by simply posting a sign on your door and asking your customers to have a mask on,” Kern Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said during the conference. “A big part of making sure that the community is wearing masks are businesses helping us out with this. It’s a very, very easy thing to do.”

He suggested businesses refuse to serve customers without masks, or suggest shopping online. He repeated the mantra, “No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service.”

The wearing of masks has become a divisive issue not only locally, but across the nation. While many continue to don face coverings whenever they go outside, others have refused, saying masks are uncomfortable and questioning their usefulness.

The Kern County Public Health Services Department has continuously advocated for masks over the past several weeks. Kim Hernandez, lead epidemiologist with the health department, said masks are an important tool to stopping the spread of the coronavirus, in addition to social distancing and hand-washing.

“This is one of many of the tools that we recommend to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19,” she said. “Face masks and cloth face coverings are intended as what we call source control. So when I wear a mask, that is to protect me from transmitting to other people. What that does is, it keeps any virus or other germs that we might be exhaling close to me and on my face.”

She added that face coverings don't replace physical distancing, washing hands, or staying home when sick.

“If you look at our health care facilities for many many years, our health care providers have employed this as a measure of source control in our health care system,” she continued. “So we are broadening it now outside of our health care system, to apply it to the rest of our daily lives to provide additional protection to all of those around us.”

The state has set several metrics counties must meet in order to continue allowing businesses and other activities to function. The state is monitoring categories such as the average case rate per 100,000 residents over 14 days and change in percentage of hospitalized patients over three days.

On Thursday, the state showed Kern County out of compliance in three categories, including case rate and hospitalizations.

Officials have said the county is likely to move in and out of compliance with the state moving forward, while wearing masks can help keep the county from straying too far from the acceptable baseline.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

Recommended for you

(16) comments

Lamonster

Even if a vaccine is found for this virus within the next couple of years, how will we ever get out from under these mask mandates once it becomes the "norm"? After all, even with vaccines available for the flu we still have tens of thousands of deaths from influenza every year in the U.S. Are we ready to be isolated and masked in perpetuity because the science can't keep up with evolving diseases?

LoveOurFlag

sorry. that is simply stupid.

Lamonster

Thanks for the constructive input. What don't you understand?

Masked 2020

they say that mask-wearing is five (5) times more efficient than sipping Clorox or any other known treatment in preventing you from catching M&D's plague... although staying 6 feet or 2 meters upwind is even better....if you cant wear a mask..... do us all a favor and stay out of the public..

Veritas

Again, you spread false information yuckies. Ignoring your Trumpite statement on sipping Clorox there is no treatment, so you just pulled mask-wearing is five times more efficient at preventing getting infected with COVID-19 out of the blue? Wearing a mask helps prevent you the infected from infecting others. It does very little to protect the wearer from getting infected, but it is better than not wearing one. That is according to the CDC, not SFGate or MSNBC which is where you said you get your false information from.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Veritas: Quit forcing facts down Yuckies' throat, you big mean keyboard warrior... :)

LoveOurFlag

lol. I bet its not five times as effective as sipping clorox in preventing the virus . It IS probably five times more effective at preventing death though !![innocent]

She Dee

This will only cause a new set of problems. Dividing America according to what's on yer face....or what's NOT on yer face. Just protect yourself and all should be right with the world. Keep it simple. Businesses should decide how they want to handle the issue. There are not enough Police to protect the owners and the customers if a fight breaks out over a mask.

Moardeeb

No who's driving America is the Trump Administration. Anyone with a brain knows we should all be wearing masks. Businesses don't get to decide who gets sick and dies any more than you. Follow the science. God Americas are dumb.

She Dee

I hate to break it to you, Moardeed, but the Trump Admin is using their time to divide this country on every level they can find. It is their goal to shut down businesses so they can take/buy the land to rebuild their version of a "perfect planned community", where only the approved people are allowed to live and thrive...verses hiding out in the basements and back rooms of Anytown, USA!

Veritas

Wow! Every wacko Leftist conspiracy theorist is coming out of the woodwork. The dumb just get dumber, and prove it every time they write.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@She Dee: That tin foil hat you have on your head looks very becoming...

Gene Pool Chlorinator

You prove your conclusion on a daily basis Dweeb...

Take action Now

Typical government passing the buck. Don’t make businesses do your job of requiring people to wear masks. During the Spanish Flu Pandemic Of 1918 , San Francisco had a requirement to wear and if not it was a $5.00 fine which equals $100 today. Don’t put businesses in a confrontational situation with potential customers. If you don’t want to make wearing masks a requirement a law, then don’t put the monkey on the back of businesses.

JR

It's time to stop asking and time for the government to make it a law that people must wear a mask when in public, anywhere in public.

She Dee

Yes, then they also need to provide those masks FREE OF CHARGE for every single person living in America. If the Government gets serious, maybe the people will too!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.