Shawnee Co. Health Officials: “Masks are voluntary; practice social distancing”

Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 6:22 PM CDT
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County health officials are giving residents a reminder that wearing a cloth face mask alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19.

At the County Commissioner’s Meeting Monday, Linda Ochs of the Shawnee County Department of Health said people who choose to wear a mask still need to maintain social distancing in public.

“The cloth face masks can help you from giving it [the virus] to someone else,” Ochs said. “It's not going to necessarily help you from getting it.”

Ochs added that masks can be helpful in areas where there is an increased chance of spread within a community.

“We don’t believe we have that now, so masks are voluntary,” she said.

According to Ochs, wearing a face mask can also give the wrong impression to people who are in close contact with someone who wears a mask, so it is important to maintain good hygiene.

“Masks can give a false sense of security,” she said. “We want to make sure that people understand they still need to maintain six feet of social distancing and all other protections: hand washing and using hand sanitizer.”

Additionally, Ochs said those who choose not to wear face masks should not feel bad about their decision.

“We just want to encourage people to do what they are comfortable with; maintaining six feet of social distancing is so important and masks are not going to prevent that from being important.”

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