Orange County, it's time to do better.
That was the message delivered on both coasts of the United States this afternoon, as California's governor and the mayor of Orange County, Florida each issued executive orders mandating the use of face masks while in public.
The Florida order will apply to area around the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando resorts, which already had announced their own mandatory-face-mask rules. California's order applies statewide, which encompasses Disneyland, Universal Studios Florida, Knott's Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Discovery Kingdom, Legoland Florida, and California's Great America.
Most of those parks also had issued their own face mask requirements. But the new orders apply to all businesses - as well as any other public space. The only exceptions will be for children ages two and under, those with conditions that make it impossible to wear a mask, and people exercising outdoors while maintain a safe social distance of at least six feet away from anyone else.
Governor Gavin Newsom's order came after California's Orange County - which is home to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm - last week rescinded its countywide mask order, in an ugly scene that included the resignation of the county's health officer. Today's order effectively reverses that decision, as Orange County, California will be under the new, statewide rule.
Covid-19 cases have been increasing in California and Florida - as well as in Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and other states across the country - as millions of Americans let their guard down getting out of the house and frequenting indoor businesses while not wearing masks. Recent research has suggested that the spread of the disease could be slowed dramatically if people would just wear masks when outside the home.
The alternatives if more people don't start wearing masks more often are either to return to stricter stay-at-home orders, meaning the re-closing of stores, restaurants, and yes, theme parks, or to accept a continued escalation in infections, which would result in an increasing death rate as many communities are seeing the number of Covid-19 patients needing ICU care approach the number of available beds.
Unless people are sociopaths, there really shouldn't be any controversy here. Find your inner
Batman (okay, Iron Man is a better example) or Spider-Man, mask up like a superhero, and let's beat this thing.
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