Hillsborough County decides against mandatory face masks

Wearing face masks while in public could become a requirement in Hillsborough County as leaders  The county's Emergency Policy Group will discuss the idea of implementing a mandatory mask order during a Thursday meeting. If approved, it would likely take effect immediately.

Tampa mayor Jane Castor brought up the idea Monday, saying it can provide another layer of protection for residents against the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Last week, the CDC recommended for all Americans to wear masks in public. Soon after, Hillsborough County leaders asked residents to voluntarily follow those guideline.

PREVIOUS: Masks, already hard to find, likely to become mandatory in Hillsborough

On Monday, Mayor Castor suggested making it requirement. During that meeting, the EPG voted 5-3 to enact a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, but tabled the mask requirement order for Thursday's meeting.

In the U.S., numerous states, including New York, and localities have started issuing orders for face coverings to be mandatory. Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Osceola counties all have measures in place requiring people to keep their nose and mouth covered when out-and-about running errands or riding public transit.

Even with a mask, the CDC stresses that everyone still needs to practice social distancing, staying six feet apart in public and to continue washing hands frequently.

Purchasing a mask may be a task in itself since it is completely sold out in most stores. Officials advise against ordering them online in order to leave them for medical professionals in the front line of the pandemic. Instead, they ask that people make their own at home.

RELATED: Manatee, Hillsborough curfews face challenges

The CDC website, the U.S. Surgeon General, and others have tutorials to show the public how to make a face covering with items you already have at home, like a scarf, a bandana, or even a regular T-shirt.

The EPG will meet at 1:30 p.m.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINKFlorida's COVID-19 website

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