California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order on Thursday requiring people to wear a face covering in most indoor settings and outside when maintaining a physical distance from others is not feasible.
"Science shows that face coverings and masks work," Newsom said in the order. "They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy."
Newsom said the order was necessary because too many people have started to venture out in public with their faces uncovered. The order does not clarify how the state plans to enforce the requirement or whether someone could be fined for not complying.
A handful of states, including New York and Michigan, already have statewide orders requiring face coverings to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Newsom's order will now require people to wear face coverings in most indoor public settings, including while they wait in line for public transportation services or to enter a business.
The requirement does not pertain to people who may be eating at a restaurant while maintaining a 6 foot distance from others or for people who are engaged in recreational activities like swimming, hiking, running and biking, according to the order.
California officials reported Thursday 4,084 new coronavirus cases that were confirmed on Wednesday, a record-high single-day increases in cases as more people get tested. Most of the new cases came from Los Angles County, which reported 2,115.
Newsom allowed restaurants and some stores to reopen in counties that met certain criteria tied to the state of the local outbreak starting May 12. On May 18, Newsom announced that he was relaxing the criteria counties were required to meet in order to move into the next phase of reopening.
Infectious disease experts say the virus can spread through respiratory droplets that pass when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Studies suggest the masks may serve as a helpful barrier.
Yet not all officials have supported mandating people to wear face coverings while in public.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal that published Thursday, President Donald Trump said some Americans might wear face masks not as a way to prevent the spread of coronavirus but as a way to "signal disapproval of him." He also said a big issue he has with masks is that people fidget with them.
Orange County's public health official resigned last week after receiving threats over an order requiring residents to wear face coverings when near others in public. Dr. Nichole Quick issued the order in late May in attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus but was met with backlash from some residents. The county's sheriff later said he would not enforce the order.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, while advising residents to continue wearing a mask, told local governments they will not receive any federal money to help fight the effects of the coronavirus pandemic if they require people to wear them in public buildings, the Omaha World-Herald reported.