RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond officials made a plea Thursday for people in the city to wear masks when out in public and said it plays a key part in the city moving into the reopening process.
“I just believe that wearing a mask is the most respectful thing that you can do in this moment… it's your greatest sign of respect that you respect your brother, your sister, who live in the city,” said Stoney at a news conference. “It is my hope if you're entering a public place, specifically if you're in a public place, as we moved towards phase one of reopening that you wear your mask. As I stated before, if I could, I would mandate this.”
But Stoney said ordering such a mandate is a state issue and added the he has and will continue to ask Governor Ralph Northam to approve one for the city.
“I will be speaking with the Governor…also talking to his team about how we can get such a measure here in the city of Richmond,” said Stoney. “I mean, frankly, I do believe it needs to be statewide. I think the state of Maryland has mandated such and the state of Connecticut, as well. And, I think it would be good policy not only for Richmond, but for the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well.”
Richmond Health Director Dr. Danny Avula added that as the city moves into the reopening phase, it is important to emphasize the importance of mask wearing.
“We're already hearing so many anecdotal reports about people being out and about and not and not wearing their masks. And that's really concerning as we head into reopening,” added Richmond Health Director Dr. Danny Avula. “Because what we've seen here and throughout the country is that these outbreaks can actually spread very, very quickly in settings and as people start to reenter into the workplace as they start to go back into businesses. We got to do everything we can to avoid that.”
Avula said that all the restrictions that have been put in place during the pandemic have been to prevent a spike in cases that overwhelms the hospital system.
“But, if people throw caution to the wind and are out and about without masks and are starting to congregate, like we've seen, we're going to get there pretty quickly,” added Avula. “This is a really key intervention if we want to reopen our economy and to keep it open. Because, if we don't, the risk of returning to lockdown is going to be really high. If we don't practice our distancing, if we don't wash our hands, and if we don't wear masks.”
Avula said it is important that everyone follow the guidelines in order for them to have the most effectiveness.
“Remember, that wearing a mask is not necessarily protecting yourself from what's out there. It's protecting others,” said Avula. “We need everybody to be protecting others, because, if we're all protecting everyone else, then we're all protected. So, I just I hope that everybody as we as we start to get back out and to enter into stores and businesses and think about phase one here in the city, that that mask wearing is a really important part of that.”
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.