Brownsville mandates facial coverage; Some type to be required in public

During a regular city meeting on Tuesday, the Brownsville City Commission unanimously voted to approve the Second Amended Declaration of Local State Disaster for Public Health Emergency which includes the mandatory use of facial covering when in public effective next Monday, April 13.

City Commissioner Dr. Rose Gowen was the biggest advocate for making the use of facial coverage mandatory and said the more people who wear facial covering, the more protected the environment is.

She also said it is important for the public to know that the use of any facial coverage such as a bandana or a T-shirt, do not protect those who wear it from getting the virus but it protects those who are in the same room because it prevents them from giving the virus.

“The purpose of wearing the mask is to prevent yourself from giving it to someone by talking, breathing, laughing. So, when I wear my mask, if I’m in a room with Ben, I’m protecting Ben; when Ben wears his mask and I’m in a room with him, he’s protecting me,” she said.

“The more of us that have a mask on, the more protected the environment is, so it should be mandatory that people wear a face coverage of some kind because that creates the safest public health environment in that area.”

Commissioner John Cowen said the city needs to be aggressive in flattening the curve because 70 percent of the community in Brownsville are considered at risk for chronic condition or have an underlying condition such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, which are known to create complications if contracting COVID-19.

“We need to be as aggressive as we can in protecting our community. I think the positive of making this mandatory outweighs the negative,” he said.

Even though the mandatory use will not go into effect until Monday, the commission recommends the community to wear face coverage when in public effective immediately, based on the CDC guidelines.

“We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms,” the CDC website reads.

“In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”