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Despite issuing mask mandate months before state, Yolo County sees spike in coronavirus

While the guidance is enforceable with a misdemeanor charge, it's up to local agencies to decide enforcement or education.

YOLO COUNTY, Calif. — As California went under a statewide mask mandate Thursday, residents of Yolo County will see no change. That's because they've been under this mandate since April.

Before the statewide mandate went into place, each county had the choice of whether or not to create a mask enforcement. While many of their neighboring counties chose not to, Yolo did. It's something counties officials believe was the right move as they watch California as a whole follow suit.

And now other counties can look to Yolo to see what it's like to be under a mask mandate, especially in regards to enforcement.

"We are not citing the individual person who is walking down the street or going into a store that isn't wearing a face covering," said Yolo County Public Information Officer Jenny Tan.

However, Tan said they are expecting businesses to enforce the order.

"If someone goes somewhere and they're not wearing a face covering, they may not be able to enter," said Tan.

While the guidance is enforceable with a misdemeanor charge, it's up to local agencies to decide enforcement or education.

"This is a statewide requirement and flows from the same legal authority as all of the other state orders," said Ali Bay, a spokesperson with the California Department of Public Health. "Californians have done incredible work following those orders - saving lives in the process. We expect that will continue to be the case."

Despite the mask mandate already in place, Yolo County saw COVID-19 confirmed cases recently spike. Tan said their contact tracers have tracked this back to a number of social gatherings as people have become more relaxed, particularly around social distancing.

"We had Memorial Day, there has been graduations, but for the most part our contact tracers [have found] these have been family social gatherings where these confirmed cases have occurred," said Tan.

She also said travel has been a part of the increase in positive cases.

"As other states are opening up, other counties and countries, people are taking advantage of that," said Tan. 

According to Tan, Yolo County contact tracers have found people have been beginning to travel again, contracting the virus and bringing it back home to Yolo. 

That's why part of the county's main focus has been being transparent with their residents around their mask mandate. 

"I think people need to see and hear about the health impacts, how it really does protect the community," said Tan.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Andie Judson.

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WATCH MORE: Extended Interview: Yolo County official explains mandatory mask order, uptick in coronavirus cases