NORRISTOWN — As public health experts nationwide stress the importance of wearing face coverings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Montgomery County officials have launched the “Mask Up, Montco” campaign.
“Here in Montgomery County, we need everyone to wear a mask or a face covering anytime you are close to someone who is not a household contact. That is the single most important thing that you can do. The data is now overwhelming,” said county Commissioners’ Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, who as a physician has been at the forefront of the county’s efforts to combat COVID-19 and provide citizens with the latest information regarding the outbreak.
“I want to be clear that we did not have this data in the beginning (of the pandemic) and that is why the recommendations were different in the beginning. But we have data that has been accumulating over the course of weeks now and I follow the data and I believe the science and that science is telling us that the single most important thing that any of us can do is wear a mask anytime that you are close to someone that is not your household contact,” Arkoosh added.
As public health experts nationwide stress the importance of wearing face coverings to help prevent the spread of the #coronavirus, #MontcoPa officials have launched the “Mask Up, Montco” campaign. I'll have that story shortly @MercuryX @TimesHeraldPA @LansReporter pic.twitter.com/Jp0awMp4v7— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) July 2, 2020
Residents can visit www.montcopa.org/COVID-19 and download graphics promoting the “Mask Up, Montco” campaign to share them with others.
“We hope that you’ll do that. We hope that businesses will post these in their windows and people will share these on their social media. We need to work as a community to make sure that everyone is wearing a mask,” said Arkoosh, a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine who also has a master’s degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Please continue to think about your actions and what they might mean for our entire community.
“So please don’t leave home without a mask or some kind of face covering. Even if you’re going out for a walk, tie a bandanna around your wrist, stick one in your pocket, just in case you run into one of your neighbors and you want to talk for a few minutes. Just put that face covering on. That is the safest approach that you can take in this moment,” Arkoosh said.
The “Mask Up, Montco” campaign was launched on Wednesday, the same day Gov. Tom Wolf signed an order making masks mandatory in all public spaces. The order signed by state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention and Control Act mandates that face coverings must be worn whenever anyone leaves home, including outdoors in situations where social distancing is impossible.
“Here in Montgomery County, we need everyone to wear a mask or a face covering anytime you are close to someone who is not a household contact. That is the single most important thing that you can do. The data is now overwhelming,” #MontcoPa Commissioners’ Chairwoman @VAArk pic.twitter.com/l50KZpWpRL— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) July 2, 2020
Previous state orders only required the wearing of masks by customers and employees inside businesses.
“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in a press release. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing – two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.”
The state order outlines the situations when a mask must be worn and includes limited exceptions to the face-covering requirement.
Under the order, individuals are required to wear face coverings if they are: outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from others who are not members of their household; in any indoor location where members of the public are permitted; waiting for, riding on, driving, or operating public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle; obtaining services from health care providers; and engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public.
#MontcoPa residents can visit https://t.co/5WiwefQRJC to download graphics promoting “Mask Up, Montco” campaign to share them with others.“We hope that you’ll do that. We hope that businesses will post these...and people will share these on their social media," @VAArk pic.twitter.com/yVPSy5er3o— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) July 2, 2020
“It is essential that Pennsylvanians wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said. “While cases increase in some areas, we cannot become complacent. My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. Wearing a mask shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you.”
Arkoosh said many local business owners are working “incredibly hard to make their business or restaurant safe.”
“But if you walk into a business or you walk into a restaurant that does not appear to be following the governor’s guidance, please take your business elsewhere. I can promise you that there are many establishments that have invested a lot of money and are working very hard to get this right and they’re the ones that deserve your business,” Arkoosh said.
“We have to stand together as a community to get through these challenging next months until we have a vaccine. But I know that we can do it because you have proven that over & over & over again during the past 17 weeks. If we stick together, we will get through this.” @VAArk— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) July 2, 2020
“The people that are flaunting the guidance and saying that this is all made up and that none of this matters, they don’t deserve your business. So please take your business to a place that’s doing it right,” Arkoosh said.
This week, national health experts again called for mask wearing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a June 30 Senate hearing on COVID-19, that Americans who don’t wear masks may propagate the further spread of infection.
“We have to stand together as a community to get through these challenging next months until we have a vaccine. But I know that we can do it because you have proven that over and over and over again during the past 17 weeks,” Arkoosh addressed county residents during a news briefing on Wednesday. “If we stick together, we will get through this.”