The Golden State is at risk of becoming the garbage state as trash piles up in California. Due to COVID-19, the risk is even greater. Before you drop a used plastic glove or mask on the ground, think again. You could be charged up to $3,000 for pandemic littering in California.

Last week, the County of Los Angeles issued a plea to its residents. "If you are wearing disposable gloves while out for essentials, please throw them * in the trash * not on the ground," they wrote on Twitter.

Besides removing possible sources of contamination, cleaning up trash and plastic helps the environment. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that the cost of tossing trash on the ground is pretty steep.

According to their official website, first-time violators could face a fine between $100 to $1,000 and a mandatory eight hours of community service trash cleanup.

Repeat offenders face a fine between $500 and $1,000 and 16 hours of community service. Those who have been caught a third time face $750 to $1,000 in fines and a full 24 hours of roadside cleanup.

The stakes are especially high during COVID-19.

Used rubber gloves and disposable masks have been spotted on sidewalks, in parking lots, and public streets everywhere from San Diego to Bakersfield and beyond. 

“It is so important for us to wear our protection, to wear our masks and gloves, but it’s also so important to dispose of those responsibly,” Mayor Karen Goh said.

This past month, the state has seen a surge in littering of possibly contaminated items.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that COVID-19 can remain on surfaces from anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Cleaning visibly dirty surfaces is the best preventative measure to curb the spread of the virus, they say.