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Federal health officials now advise wearing a homemade face mask while in public, recently changing the guidelines in a bid to protect more Americans from contracting the novel coronavirus. But in some states, a face covering of some kind is no longer an option: it’s a requirement -- if you’re going out in public, at least.
As the epidemic of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to overwhelm America’s health care workers who grapple to treat the worst patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month changed its guidelines to urge citizens to do their part in stopping the spread, which now includes protecting your face with some type of cloth covering when you step out of the safety of your home to restock on essential goods.
The CDC only recently changed its recommendations “in light of new evidence” that shows “a significant portion” of those with the novel virus is either asymptomatic -- meaning they lack symptoms altogether -- or presymptomatic, meaning they can spread the virus to others without first showing signs of it themselves.
“This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity -- for example, speaking, coughing or sneezing -- even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms,” the CDC stated in its updated guidelines.
A facial covering -- not to be confused with a surgical mask or an N95 respirator, both of which are in low supply and should be reserved for frontline medical workers -- can be made from a few simple items likely found around your home, no sewing required. You can find an easy how-to here.
Read on for a look at what states have issued executive orders mandating that face masks be worn while in public.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order mandating some type of face mask for everyone over the age of 2, effective beginning April 20.
“Any person in a public place in Connecticut who is unable to or does not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering,” the order reads.
The coverings are also required when using public transportation or when riding in a taxi, Uber, or another ride-sharing service.
Additionally, essential employees -- those who cannot work from home -- are also required to wear a face mask or face covering.
Beginning April 20, Hawaii residents must wear a face covering “while waiting to enter and while at an essential business or operation,” according to the order from Gov. David Ige.
“All employees of essential businesses or operations who have any contact with customers or goods to be purchased shall wear the cloth face-covering recommended by the CDC while at their place of employment,” the order states.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week mandated that all Illinois residents must wear a face mask "when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance," according to NBC 5 Chicago. "Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask."
The mandate takes effect on May 1.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order that mandates citizens to wear a face-covering while using public transportation in the state. Residents over the age of 9 are also required to wear a mask or covering when shopping in essential “retail or food service” establishments. The same applies to staff members at essential businesses.
Additionally, adults “shall use reasonable efforts” to have any children between the ages of 2 and 9 who accompany them during outings to use face masks or coverings, as per the order.
Similar to other states, New Jersey also requires its residents to wear a face-covering while in public.
In an executive order that took effect April 8, Gov. Phil Murphy said employees and customers at essential businesses must wear them, as must anyone working for or using New Jersey public transportation.
Effective April 17, New Yorkers over the age of 2 and “medically able to tolerate a face covering” are required to do so, especially when social distancing is not or cannot be maintained, as per the executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Effective April 19, employees at essential businesses are required to wear face coverings while on the job. Employers must provide employees with a mask, according to the state’s Department of Health.
Customers are also required to wear them and can be denied entry to the business "unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of such goods," Gov. Tom Wolf's office said.
Effective April 18, employees at essential businesses must wear a face mask or covering, according to Gov. Gina Raimondo's executive order.
Unless an employee "can easily, continuously, and measurably maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other employees for the duration of his or her work," all employees at essential businesses “must wear face coverings in any entry, exit and common areas of the business, including, but not limited to: check-in, registration, reception, hallways, bathrooms, breakrooms, time clock areas, elevators, stairways, etc,” the order reads.
Employers must provide their employees either face masks or the appropriate materials to make one, as per the order.
This file will be updated if more states mandate face coverings.