NY face covering mandate the latest in ever-changing COVID-19 policies
Come Friday night, it will be mandatory for New Yorkers to wear masks in public, but some have been left wondering if face coverings are reliable or helpful.
The mandate, which goes into effect 8 p.m. Friday, states that coverings will be required in public places around others, on public transit or in taxis, where social distancing may be difficult.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the executive order Wednesday, saying the rule will help stop the spread of COVID-19. He says any type of face covering will do -- a bandanna, scarf or homemade cloth mask. It doesn't have to be a surgical mask or N95 respirator.
The move is a change from past governmental advice that masks were not always necessary. But now medical professionals say though they're not perfect, face coverings can help keep an infected person who may not have symptoms from transmitting the virus.
"This gives folks an added layer of safety, in terms of being able to be outside and not potentially spread," says Dr. Patrick O'Shaugnessy, of Catholic Health Services. "This catches pretty much what you cough or sneeze."
Reaction on the mandate has been mixed, with some viewers supporting the steps, while others have called it government overreach.
"To them I say if you don't think 600 people died yesterday, and if you don't think that's a problem, I disagree with you," says Cuomo.
Cuomo has admitted it will be difficult to police the new requirement, but hopes people will adhere to it to help reduce transmission of the virus.