San Diego’s New Facial Coverings Mandate Introduced With Limited Public Education

What’s New for San Diegans

For weeks the County of San Diego has recommended face masks be worn any time residents are within 6 feet of anyone not a part of their family unit. Beginning Friday, May 1st, this will be mandated. While many San Diegan’s have already bought into the concept of protecting their neighbors and themselves with face coverings, it is a difference in kind for the County to use the weight of government to require citizens possess and utilize masks in public in the fight against Covid19. While debate rages about the efficacy of such policy, this article is about the execution.

Training in the proper use of masks and N95s is commonplace among medical providers. Unfortunately it is virtually non-existent in the public sphere. On the plus side, we have YouTube. Two years ago Minnesota State Health published an excellent video about applying mask-only protection. More recent videos include Ohio Health and UT Physicians.

How to Apply Facial Coverings

According to the prior resources and others, the steps to don (apply) and doff (remove) facial coverings are as follows:


  1. Hand hygiene.
  2. Fit mask to face.

While wearing:

  1. Treat the exterior of the facial covering as though it is already infected and do not touch.


  1. Hand hygiene.
  2. Remove mask by only touching the straps/elastic
  3. Place mask directly into trash or laundry. (as appropriate)
  4. Hand hygiene.

San Diego County requirements:

On Tuesday, April 28, San Diego County’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Yphantides spoke at the daily media briefing regarding the Covid19 pandemic and facial coverings while sporting a patriotic mask.

“We have no pre-existent immunity, there is no vaccine that is currently available, and there are no currently proven medication treatments, though… there is some promising potential. Our best hope remains non-pharmaceutical interventions… Social distancing is the obvious one. But I would submit that face coverings fit into that category… There is now no doubt that Covid transmission of the virus can occur before any symptoms are present and it can occur from those who are infected who will never have any symptoms whatsoever… Because I do not touch my face in public I will not remove (my mask) while I am speaking. Even homemade cloth masks like the one I’m wearing have now some growing evidence that they may not capture the aerosolized particles but are effective in potentially decreasing the transmission of the larger droplets.”

Dr. Nick Yphantides

While these near- daily county media briefings have been occurring for over a month, Tuesday was the first day that one of the presenters wearing a mask did not touch the face of the mask to remove it, including prior appearances by Dr. Yphantides. His call did have an immediate response. Public Health Officer Dr. Wooten immediately modified her own actions and responded to press inquiries during the briefing while keeping her mask in place for the duration of the briefing.

So What do we do?

Simply put, what’s happening is unprecedented. As Dr. Yphantides said, “There is no harm in wearing a mask. So why don’t we just do it?” Barring medical restrictions, such as those listed by the CDC, facial coverings may help prevent the spread of Covid19, and that is enough for us San Diegans to support the action in our daily behavior, despite any political or efficacy argument. Wear masks and follow proper processes so that it is as effective as possible. Let’s protect our neighbors, let’s protect ourselves. We’re in this together, San Diego.

By Steven J.
Reviewed by: Heather Hemming

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Steven J.