PACIFIC COUNTY — People will not face criminal charges for not wearing masks, according to the Long Beach Police Department and the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office.
Face masks must be worn when people are in a public space, such as either a store, office or restaurant. People must also wear masks outside if they cannot stay 6 feet apart. The rule became mandatory on Friday, June 26.
Long Beach Chief of Police Flint Wright said he would not arrest people for not wearing a mask. If a business asks a person to wear a mask and the person refuses and won’t leave, Wright said it would become a trespassing issue. At that point, business owners should call police, Wright said.
Pacific County Sheriff Robin Souvenir said his office would be focused on education.
“The governor’s order is an attempt to slow the spread of this pandemic that has affected us all throughout this nation,” Souvenir wrote in a news release Friday, June 26.
That said, the office doesn’t believe writing citations or arresting people for violations is the best solution, Souvenir wrote.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced the statewide rule on June 23, with Washington State Health Secretary John Wiesman issuing the official order the next day. The order said violators of the face covering rule may be subject to criminal penalties.
New Jersey was the first state to mandate masks be worn in public, that began on April 8. More than 20 states have issued similar orders, including Oregon and California.
Washington’s ban includes exemptions for people with certain disabilities or health conditions, people who are deaf or hard of hearing and children under the age of 5, though the Washington State Coronavirus Response website said the state still encourages children aged 3-5 wear a face covering if possible.
When seated at a restaurant or recreating alone, people can remove their masks.
People do not need to wear a cloth face covering in their own homes with only people from their household, or when people are alone in their cars. People do not need to wear masks when they are outdoors and people are far apart.
More details will be made available after Washington State Health Secretary John Wiesman issues the final order.
“Cloth face masks protect other people from getting covid-19 from us when we talk, cough or sneeze,” according to the Coronavirus Response website. “Between 20-40 percent of people with covid-19 don’t show any symptoms but can still spread the virus to others. Recent research suggests wearing a face covering can significantly reduce the incidence of covid-19.”
Face masks are the best defense to prevent the spread of covid-19, short of a vaccine or cure, according to the site.
Department of Health Assistant Secretary Lauren Jenks talked about the benefits of masks in a Monday, June 22 update.
Some researchers compared countries that promoted face masks as part of their early response to covid-19 to countries, such as the U.S., that did not, Jenks wrote. The countries that promoted face masks ended up with fewer cases than the countries that did not.
“The virus that causes covid-19 is likely spread by droplets that you exhale when you are normally breathing, as well as when you are talking, singing, coughing or sneezing,” Jenks said. “These droplets can float in the air and infect people who are near you.”
This is more likely if people are within 6 feet in an indoor space with poor ventilation.
A cloth face covering helps to prevent those droplets from hanging in the air. The effectiveness of mask wearing increases if everyone in a room is wearing a mask, Jenks wrote.
Wearing a cloth face covering is not likely to restrict a person’s oxygen or make a person breathe too much carbon dioxide. But if a person feels dizzy or light headed while wearing a mask, or has any trouble breathing, they should sit down and remove their mask. If it continues, the person should call 911, Jenks wrote.
Across the river
People are required to wear masks in Clatsop County while in stores and other indoor public spaces to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Gov. Kate Brown on June 26 approved the county Board of Commissioners’ request to opt in to a mask requirement the governor imposed for seven Oregon counties.
The requirement went into effect on June 24 for Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion and Polk counties.
Brown did not include counties with lower infection rates in her mandate, but gave counties the ability to opt in to the requirement. Clatsop County commissioners voted unanimously to opt in.
With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, and coronavirus cases still rising across the state, Brown on June 29 extended the mask requirement statewide.
“Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new covid-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks,” the governor said in a statement.
“The choices every single one of us make in the coming days matter.
“Face coverings that cover your nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of this disease because droplets from our breath can carry the virus to others without us realizing it.”
Brown warned that government restrictions that have been lifted in many counties could return. “I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing,” she said. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public.”