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Virginia may mandate wearing masks in public if COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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Posted at 10:48 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 23:27:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam said on Wednesday that the state will enforce mandatory mask policies if COVID-19 cases continue to rise and Virginians continue to disregard mask-wearing guidelines.

The Virginia Department of Health recommends that people wear cloth face coverings when they are in public places, such as the grocery store, where they will be around other people and it may be difficult to keep at least 6 feet apart. But unlike states like Maryland, Connecticut, and New York, mask wearing is not mandated in any way in Virginia.

However, in a Facebook Live conversation with CBS 6 on Wednesday, Gov. Northam said that the state will mandate mask wearing if cases continue to rise.

"If it gets to the point that we see our numbers going up, for example, and people not complying with our guidelines, then that's something we will do," Northam said.

Northam also reminded Virginians that masks serve multiple purposes: they protect others from potentially deadly COVID-19 which can be asymptomatic in some carriers, and they serve as a reminder not to touch your face.

"The most important reason to wear a mask is to prevent other people from catching or having what you have," Northam said. "The other thing, from a physicians perspective, is we know that this virus is transmitted from bringing our hands to our face, whether it be our mouth, our nose, or our eyes, and actually just having the mask on kind of reminds you to keep your hands away from your face."

"I encourage all Virginians to do it not just for themselves but to protect others. Think about these people on our front lines in our hospitals and nursing homes, those are the ones we need to take care of."