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Officials urge residents to wear cloth face coverings when in Seneca County

Officials in Seneca County are endorsing and recommending that residents use cloth face coverings when going into public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Directors of both the Seneca County Health Department and the Seneca County Office of Emergency Management have endorsed this recommendation.

Public Health Director Vickie Swinehart said the effort will strengthen social distancing measures, to ensure that Seneca County does not see as severe of an outbreak as other communities.

“Our efforts to encourage social distancing need to be strengthened and by adding this measure we can further help slow the spread of this disease. The use of face coverings will slow the spread of the virus among those individuals who are asymptomatic, yet still able to pass the virus on to others,” she said in a statement.

Emergency Management Director Melissa Taylor agreed. “I support the use of cloth face coverings in public. We should not be using masks designated for healthcare uses such as surgical masks or N-95 respirators because there is a lack of these kinds of masks and we need to prioritize them for medical and first responders’ use,” she said. “This recommendation will further help us to protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents.”

Swinehart stressed the importance of covering their mouths and nose with a cloth mask while in public to assist with social distancing practices. “Our recommendations for social distancing have not changed. We are strongly encouraging residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary to go out and that when they are in public to wear a face covering and remain at least 6 ft. away from others. It is also critical that we continue to wash our hands frequently and cover our coughs,” she said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Hayssen said that it’s important to embrace these practices even when engaging with outdoor activities currently approved. “It is important that all Seneca County residents follow these recommendations even when engaging in outdoor activities such as playing golf or when taking a walk. This is about protecting the health of our citizen’s. We must change our way of life temporarily to ensure that we limit the spread of this disease,” he said. “I am confident in our citizens’ abilities to protect one another by following these recommendations.”