After weeks of controversy over face masks in Orange County, Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, June 18, ordered all California residents to wear face coverings in public.

In a tweet, Newsom capitalized the word “required” with a link to the state’s COVID-19 website. The governor’s new mask requirement begins immediately, per the state website.

“Cloth face coverings or masks help reduce the spread of coronavirus especially when combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing. Starting June 18, Californians must wear face coverings in common and public indoor spaces and outdoors when distancing is not possible,” the website states.

As of Thursday, June 18, the Orange County Health Agency reported 132 new COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths. However, hospitalizations continue to rise.

In fact, Orange County saw the highest hospitalization total of 345 patients, on June 16, which included 144 in the ICU.

After public backlash in Orange County over masks resulted in the resignation of Orange County chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick, the county’s interim health officer Dr. Clayton Chau modified the mask order to “strongly recommended” on Thursday, June 11.

However, the newest statewide order now supersedes Chau’s. During a Thursday, June 18, press conference, Chau explained that the county is currently in discussions to determine how this new mandate would be enforced, which come later this week.

As of June 16, the city of Irvine still required residents to wear masks while outside of the home.

The new mask ordinance has been specifically modified to prevent the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, according to a memo from California Department of Public Health.

“Over the last four months, we have learned a lot about COVID-19 transmission, most notably that people who are infected but are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic play an important part in community spread,” the memo reads. ” The use of face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing, as well as reinforce physical distancing.”

Mask Guidelines

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank
  •  Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public
  •  Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time
  • In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.

However, there are exceptions for individuals who are incarcerated or in jail and children less than 2 years old.

Additionally, a face covering does not have to worn if you are engaged in outdoor work or recreation — if you are able to maintain social distance.

The memo also offers tips on how to care for face masks and at which point face coverings should be discarded.

As of Thursday, June 18, California experienced a 2.6 increase in total COVID-19 cases, along with a 1.6-fold increase in COVID-19 related deaths. California reported 4,084 new COVID-19 cases statewide.

“More than half of new cases were reported from Los Angeles County, with 600 results coming in from an earlier testing period,” according to state data.