Miami-Dade, Broward Order Mandatory Face Covering When in Public

The two counties agreed to a "blanket facial coverings" order in order to avoid stretching small hospitals thin.

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As coronavirus cases continue to climb in South Florida, Broward and Miami-Dade counties have issued emergency orders requiring people wear face masks when out in public.

In a statement, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the two counties agreed to a "blanket facial coverings" order in order to avoid overwhelming smaller hospitals.

"I want to once again reiterate that if everyone follows the New Normal rules of social distancing of at least six feet, wear facial coverings (which can be homemade) and stay safer at home unless they need to go to work or to a store, we can get back to opening up our economy," Gimenez said in a statement.

In Broward, the order states people must wear a facial covering when a distance of at least six feet cannot be consistently maintained.

There are some exceptions to the orders. 

"If you're under 2 years old, if you are actually eating or if you are doing strenuous exercise, you don't have to wear a face mask at that time," said Miami Commissioner Ken Russell. 

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University conducted a study on just how effective certain masks can be.

They used a laser to measure how far droplets go with different coverings and found a well-fitting, homemade mask stitched with two-layers of fabric kept particles to just a couple inches away. A bandana was the least effective, allowing those same droplets to travel more than three feet away.

"In order to wear them properly you have to cover both the nose and the mouth. For the masks that have a small wire piece on the top, you pinch it slightly, which helps seal it off a little better," said Dr. Roger Spitzer, an infectious disease specialist. 

Spitzer says masks with valves are not effective because if they don't have a filter the virus can escape through the valve. Face shields are only recommended if you have a mask on under the shield.

Broward's emergency order also required that business remain closed between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. Take out, delivery and drive-thru are still permitted.

Miami-Dade issued a similar order late Tuesday night, which goes into effect Wednesday night at midnight.

Establishments in Miami-Dade that seat more than eight people will be closed from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. nightly until further notice.

"Please, follow the rules. Do it for your family, your friends, your community – if not for yourself. This pandemic has no borders and no age limits. It is attacking younger people who are ending up in the hospital," Gimenez said.

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