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Face masks will slow spread of coronavirus, county says

With New York’s stay-at-home order extended until at least April 29, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello on Monday urged residents to add the wearing of face masks to their regular social distancing practices.


Face masks should be worn anywhere that people can’t easily maintain six feet of separation, such as grocery stores or pharmacies.

The county said the use of homemade masks is preferred. That way, medical grade masks, already in short supply, can be saved for health care facilities and first responders who are on the front line of this battle against the coronavirus.

“Keeping a distance from each other and staying home is a fail safe way of stopping and slowing the spread of this virus,” Bello said.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County, including 19 deaths.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday extended his New York On Pause edict. Non-essential businesses must remain closed and residents should continue to limit any outdoor activity to essentially grocery shopping or exercise that complies with the six-foot social distancing guidelines.

Masks are recommended since the virus can be spread by people who don’t exhibit any symptoms of illness. A mask won’t necessarily protect a person from contracting COVID-19, but it will deter the spread to someone else.

“It keeps germs to yourself; it helps prevent you from unknowingly getting other people sick,” Bello said.

The county and United Way of Greater Rochester also asked the public for assistance in making masks. Details of the Mask-Makers Initiative are available at uwrochester.org. United Way president and CEO Jamie Saunders said 50,000 masks are needed this week.

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