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National City Mandates Face Coverings In Public; More Cities Looking To Do The Same

National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis wears a face covering in public, A...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis wears a face covering in public, April 22, 2020.

National City is the first city in San Diego county to mandate face coverings, not just for essential workers, but for everyone out in public during the pandemic. Only children under the age of two are exempt. The new rule went into effect on Wednesday.

"We’ve seen, over the course of the last two weeks, an increasing number of positive reports in our South Bay communities and in particular National City," said National City mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. "And so what we said was, 'We need to be as proactive as we can.'"

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Sotelo-Solis is referring to a ZIP code listing of coronavirus cases that shows National City, Chula Vista and Otay Mesa with some of the highest numbers in the county. That data only shows the home ZIP codes of people who have tested positive. They could have contracted the virus elsewhere.

"I think it's good that local people are making local decisions about what should be done," said Dr. Eric McDonald, who leads the county’s Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch.

RELATED: How To Properly And Safely Cover Your Face During Coronavirus Outbreak

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

County health officials have already recommended everyone wear a face-covering in public to slow the spread of the virus, but officials do not seem to have plans to mandate it countywide anytime soon.

"In the county overall the rate [of infection] per 100,000 of the population is just over 75 cases," McDonald said. "But it turns out, National City has a higher rate per 100,000 and they are aware of this and are tracking it."

The Chula Vista City Council on Wednesday was finalizing language in a similar order mandating face masks in public. A spokesperson said the city planned to have it go into effect at midnight Thursday. McDonald is encouraging other local cities to take the same action.

"Each individual location should be making these targeted recommendations to the citizens in their jurisdiction," he said.

McDonald said such a step would absolutely help slow the virus' spread.

"Adopting the use of the masks in public is going to reduce it. Whether it's required or strongly recommended is a local decision that should be made on local information," he said.

Many are wondering how, or if the National City mandate will be enforced.

"This also too is going to have an education component," said Sotelo-Solis. "We don’t want to get into that enforcement of ticketing or citing."

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said he is also looking into mandating face coverings.

Face covering do not have to be actual masks. A shirt or bandanna will work. For more on how to properly cover your face here.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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