Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking new action to encourage New Yorkers to wear masks in public and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Cuomo said Thursday he will sign an executive order allowing businesses to deny entry to customers who aren't wearing masks. The new order will complement an existing directive that's been in place since April requiring people to wear masks when social distancing isn't possible.
"That store owner has a right to protect themselves," Cuomo said. "That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing face coverings "in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain." The settings include grocery stores and pharmacies.
Cuomo's previous executive order, which took effect April 17, requires New Yorkers ages 2 and older to wear a mask or face covering "when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance." There is an exception if someone can't "medically tolerate" wearing a mask.
During recent briefings, Cuomo has highlighted the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The state launched a contest to select a public service announcement that would encourage New Yorkers to wear a mask or face covering.
One study found that "public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high." Dr. Raed Dweik, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute, said that wearing masks can prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others around them.
When you cough or sneeze, Dweik explained in a post on the Cleveland Clinic's website, droplets could travel 25 feet. The mask, he added, can contain the droplets from traveling that distance.
However, elected officials have sent mixed messages about the importance of wearing masks in public. President Donald Trump regularly attends public events or appears at press conferences without a mask. Early on, Cuomo didn't wear a mask or face covering to his events, but has changed that practice over the last few weeks.
On Thursday, Cuomo said he's been working to communicate the importance of wearing masks.
"They are deceptively effective," he said.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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