SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Northern Santa Barbara County leaders are rolling out a campaign to encourage mask wearing, as coronavirus numbers in the region continue to grow faster than other parts of the Central Coast.
Leaders are saying, 'protect, respect, wear your mask.' They announced the campaign during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Leaders from businesses and healthcare, along with government officials from Santa Maria, Lompoc and Guadalupe all are taking part in the push.
Santa Maria alone has about 40 percent of the county's cases outside of the Lompoc prison. The city of Lompoc has the second highest infected count with more than 100.
County leaders say that masks will help protect those around you if you are sick, though they won't necessarily protect the mask wearer from COVID-19.
Officials say it is an important step towards a safe reopening and could prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Glenn Morris, president and CEO of the Santa Maria Chamber of commerce said wearing a mask is a personal responsibility. "We can't always control all the things around us, but the one thing we can control is our own personal investment in the cause," he said.
Mayor of Lompoc Jenelle Osborne said she thinks of masks "the same as the drunk driving rules that we have. I choose not to drink and drive," and she chooses to wear a mask to protect others.
Santa Barbara County Public Health said in the county press conference Wednesday that they are discussing mandating masks.
Right now, there is no rule on the state or county level for when people leave their home, but there is a requirement for people working at restaurants.
More mask rules would come to restaurants and stores when they are allowed to reopen in-person sales. Masks may be required in businesses reopening that are small where it is hard to stay six feet apart.