Shoppers leave a grocery store wearing masks in response to the coronavirus. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Shoppers leave a grocery store wearing masks in response to the coronavirus. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Newsom says face coverings can help, but California won’t mandate for now

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that face coverings are beneficial in grocery stores, but his administration has stopped short of telling Californians to wear them.

“We believe and we put out guidelines that if individuals want to have face coverings,” Newsom said, “that is a good thing and a preferable thing, in addition to the physical distancing and the stay at home order.”

“We have been very clear that if you are going into an environment where physical distancing is all but impossible, for example, into a grocery store with small aisles and a long queue, that we do believe it would be additive and beneficial to have a face covering.”

In guidance released Wednesday, state health officials said cloth face coverings could help remind other people to keep their distance and reduce the spread of the virus by asymptomatic carriers. But they repeated that physical distancing and frequent hand washing remain the best actions Californians can take to prevent the spread of the virus.

Newsom said he’s concerned about mandating face coverings because he wants to make sure N-95 masks, surgical masks and other protective gear are prioritized for healthcare workers.

The governor said 816 patients are in intensive care and 1,922 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in California as of Thursday.

By Taryn Luna, Los Angeles Times

Bay Area NewsCaliforniaCoronavirus

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