California County Fining Residents $1,000 For Not Wearing Face Masks in Public

Residents in Riverside County, California, are now required to wear face coverings and could face a fine of $1,000 per violation per day if the mandate, which went into effect Sunday, is ignored.

Recent data from the Riverside University Health System indicated 946 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus within the county with 25 deaths attributable to the illness.

"While more and more Riverside County residents are getting COVID-19, not everybody's getting the message," said Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser in a statement Saturday. "It started with staying home, social distance and covering your face. But now we change from saying that you should to saying that you must."

"This is a valid order and enforceable by fine, imprisonment or both," said Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco in a Monday video statement. "However, I need to make it perfectly clear to all residents of Riverside County we will not be setting up a police state and this is not a declaration of martial law in Riverside County."

"While this order does have potential criminal and civil consequences, that is the last thing I want to happen while we deal with this crisis," Bianco added.

Bianco said he preferred that county residents abide by the facemask mandate voluntarily. No vehicular checkpoints or driver stoppages are planned because a resident is not wearing a facemask.

"We will not be stopping you while you're on a walk with your kids or while you're out running or hiking," Bianco said.

Newsweek reached out to the County of Riverside for comment.

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Residents of Riverside County, California, may be fined up to $1,000 for not wearing a face mask in public places. Getty

California Governor Gavin Newsom said during a Tuesday news briefing that he believes the state will see the most coronavirus-related deaths in May, not in the middle of April as some studies have indicated.

Although Newsom announced 15,865 positive cases of coronavirus in California, which represents a 10.7 percent increase over Monday, Newsom also said the curve within the state was rising more slowly than initially projected.

"Our modeling shows that we're not at peak in a week or two, that we are seeing a slow and steady increase, but it's moderate." Newsom said. "It's moderate again because of the actions all of you have taken in terms of the physical distancing."

While physical distancing has been a mainstay of the coronavirus advice coming from the White House, the wearing of face masks in public is only a recommendation from the CDC.

"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," read the CDC website.

Medical-grade face coverings, such as N95 respirators or surgical masks should be reserved for health care workers.

President Donald Trump said Friday that he would not wear a face mask despite the CDC's recommendation.

"Somehow, sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful resolute desk, the great resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know," Trump said. "Somehow, I don't see it for myself. I just don't."