Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday urged all Angelinos to wear non-medical face masks when venturing outside to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The mayor of America's second-largest city -- with a population of 4 million -- said those performing essential activities should wear masks or homemade face coverings like bandannas.
“I know it will look surreal,” he said, donning a mask. “We’re going to have to get used to seeing each other like this. ... This will be the look.”
“To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn’t an excuse to suddenly all go out," he added.
Garcetti said residents should not wear medical-grade masks, which are in short supply and desperately needed for health care workers on the front line.
He also urged people to stay inside as much as possible to avoid becoming infected. The message comes after he threatened to shut off utilities for nonessential businesses that fail to comply with city and state orders to stay closed.
Such businesses still open could face misdemeanor charges, Garcetti said, adding that complaints about several still in operation have been referred to the city attorney.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Los Angeles County health officials confirmed 3,518 COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths. The county reported a 17 percent spike over the day with 500 new cases.
To shore up the production of protective gear and supplies, the city has launched the "L.A. Protects" partnership with the fashion and garment industry to make up to 5 million non-medical masks for grocery store workers and non-medical staff in hospitals, according to KABC-TV.
Garcetti's announcement came after Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser urged that people who need to go out in public should use something — even bandanas or neck warmers — to cover their mouths and noses to protect others and themselves.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday reiterated that people should stay indoors and projected the state will need 66,000 more hospital beds for an anticipated surge in cases.
He added that face masks are not a substitute for social distancing and additional measures being imposed.