Due to a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases, Merced County and its six cities are encouraging residents to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reopen the economy, a news release said.

The campaign, known as “Mask-Up,” is intended to educate the public on the importance of face coverings and address “hotspots” throughout the County that are experiencing spikes of cases, according to a Merced County news release. The campaign will include public education efforts, materials promoting mask wearing, and mask distribution in various locations.

The use of face coverings is now mandated by the State and County. Wear a face covering whenever you’re out in public, the news release said.

The State imposing an extended shutdown on more sectors of our economy due to the rising infection rate.

Some masks, such as N95s, are more effective than others in terms of preventing illness. However, the main purpose of cloth face coverings or other types of masks is to prevent respiratory droplets from infecting others when you cough, sneeze or talk. It’s important to remember that some people infected with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms, while the disease is deadly for others. Wearing a mask is a sign that you’re being considerate of those around you that may have compromised immune systems. Face coverings/masks are not recommended for children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is incapacitated.