Hillsborough County encouraging residents to wear face coverings when in public

Hillsborough County leaders are now asking that residents to follow CDC guidelines and wear a cloth-mask in public. In some parts of Florida, this has become a requirement, however in Hillsborough, it’s simply a strong recommendation at this point.

The directive comes on the heels of the CDC guidance to all Americans to wear masks in public. Even with the mask, the CDC stresses that everyone still needs to practice social distancing, staying 6 feet apart in public and to continue washing hands frequently.

The goal is to protect others in case someone is infected with COVID-19, especially given asymptotic people can still spread the virus.

"A face barrier can actually interrupt the number of virus  particles that can go from one person to another," said Robert R. Redfield, prevention director with the CDC.

Like the CDC recommendation, the Hillsborough County notice to wear a mask in public is still voluntary, but elsewhere Florida it isn’t. Miami is the latest city to make the mask mandatory.

Residents are now being told they must cover their faces inside highly-trafficked public spaces like grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. Similar orders have gone into place in other cities in south Florida as well.

The recommended face coverings are cloth masks, not the medical-grade kind or the N95 respirators because those are in such short supply and high demand. Officials in Hillsborough County and on the federal level ask that people leave those for health care workers and other first responders to use.

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

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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