Osceola County issued a new protective order Friday requiring that face masks or other coverings be worn by nearly every person in public.
Coverings include a uniform piece of material securely covering a person's nose and mouth, which "remains affixed in place without the use of one's hands." This can include a bandana, t-shirt, scarf or other piece of cloth.
The order takes affect just after midnight Sunday night, starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, April 13. It remains in place "until further notice."
"A face covering, according to the CDC's guidance, can help stop the spread of the disease, especially if someone is asymptomatic," says the order announcement.
Osceola County also said Friday it has more than 300 cases of coronavirus, and that, "while many residents are abiding by current orders and guidance, others are creating a risk by ignoring them."
There are a few exceptions to the order, such as children under two and people whose breathing would be inhibited by a mask due to an existing health condition. People who are at work and have no face-to-face public interactions are also exempted, as are people exercising, as long as they are "observing social distancing in accordance with the CDC guidelines."
This video from a feature in the journalNature shows why you don't want to wait until Monday to start protecting yourself from flying mucus – and especially to contain your own.
What you're seeing is MITmathematician Lydia Bourouiba's high-speed camera capturing the anatomy of sneezes and coughs, which helps to illustrate how infectious diseases like COVID-19 spread in the air.
Mask wearing has indeed been much more popular in countries outside of the U.S., as a way to combat pollen and air pollution, and as a courtesy to protect other people from sneezes. It's time for Central Floridians to more broadly accept the lesson.
County officials asked residents to refrain from wearing "sorely needed N95 masks or other PPE," so as not to deprive medical professionals the critically needed personal protection equipment, but washable cloth masks are effective and readily available.
As always, businesses will need to be on board too. One of the best ways local restaurants and service providers can adopt mask culture is to make their own using cloth from unused company uniforms or matching fabrics. Accessorizing cloth masks with existing uniforms reduces the jarring appearance of medical-style masks, which are often in a recognizable light blue or green. Gloves are a must, whether required or not, and white ones match almost any uniform.
For details on the order, visit the county's website. Osceola residents who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 and have developed a fever and symptoms (such as cough or difficulty breathing), are asked to contact their healthcare provider or the Osceola County Health Department at 407-343-2000.