Coronavirus mask mandates: Amid COVID-19 surge, states implement new rules
More states across the country are now requiring people to wear masks as the U.S. continues to grapple with record-shattering daily new coronavirus cases.
The U.S. has seen more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases daily for the past several days. Johns Hopkins reported that the country surpassed more than 10 million cases since the start of the pandemic this week, with more than 230,000 deaths.
In a counterweight to the grim news, scientists said this week there was a major development in the race for a vaccine. On Monday, Pfizer announced that data showed its potential vaccine is 90% effective in preventing the coronavirus. But the pharmaceutical company can’t apply for the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization just yet.
Company executives said more safety data is needed to determine if there are side effects, but they anticipate that the data will be available in late November.
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden encouraged Americans to wear a mask during a news conference Monday.
Biden is currently forming his task force to guide the country during the pandemic. FOX News reported he’s getting ready to roll out mask mandates nationwide, hoping to work with governors and possibly with mayors and county executives if the governors refuse.
In the meantime, some states are issuing or revising their mask mandates for the first time since March, when WHO officially declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.
There’s no general mask mandate, but Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation Tuesday, requiring face coverings in certain situations. The public health order will go into effect on Wednesday and will last until November 30
The order reads:
“The proclamation continues the requirements that those attending any social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting gathering must maintain six feet distancing from other groups. But it now also requires that those groups are limited to 8 people unless the entire group is from the same household. Additionally, all these gatherings that occur indoors with more than 25 people, or outdoors with more than 100 people, are prohibited unless all participants over 2 years old wear masks excepts when eating and drinking. In addition to these distancing and masking requirements, at an indoor youth sporting or recreational gathering, only two spectators are permitted for each youth athlete.
Customers and employees are also now required to wear masks at salons, barbershops, massage therapy establishments, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, and other establishments providing personal services."
“I continue to strongly encourage all Iowans two or older to wear a mask or other face covering when in public settings, especially in circumstances when it is not possible to remain six feet away from others outside their household, unless it is unsafe to do so because of health or disability,” added Reynolds.
You can read more about the new measures here and the full proclamation here.
Information from the state government showed Iowans have seen the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state since the start of the pandemic. Since then, more than 161,700 people in the state have tested positive and more than 1,800 people have died. Close to 103,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Iowa.
Employees at Spectrum Solutions assembles COVID-19 saliva test kits in Draper, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
This week, Gov. Gary Herbert issued a state of emergency. The order went into effect on Monday and will last until November 23.
Under the order:
-All Utahns must wear masks in public, and when within six feet of anyone they don’t live with.
-Limit casual social gatherings to household-only until November 23, 2020.
-Put all extracurricular activities, including athletic and intramural events, on hold for the
duration of the order.
“To make a real difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and turning around the dire situation in our hospitals, we all need to do more,” said Herbert. “That’s why we are restricting casual social gatherings for the next two weeks. This means many of us may have to cancel plans with extended family and friends. This is a sacrifice for all of us. But as we slow the spread it will make all the difference for our overworked healthcare workers, who desperately need our help.”
Like much of the country, the Beehive State continues to see a steady climb in cases. Since the pandemic, Utah has had more than 134,000 positive cases, more than 6,100 hospitalizations and more than 600 deaths.
Utah also will ramp up its contact tracing efforts and its testing of younger individuals who usually show no symptoms of the coronavirus, including college testing, testing for students engaged in extracurricular activities and, eventually, workplace testing for people 35 and younger, Herbert’s office said. Utah National Guard personnel will help in contact tracing, it said.
Gov. Pete Ricketts has yet to issue a statewide mask mandate but did make it a requirement in certain circumstances. The requirements will take effect on Wednesday in response to rising hospitalizations in the state.
-Requiring masks for staff and patrons at salons, barbershops, massage therapy, bowling alleys, pool halls, body art establishments, and any other indoor businesses where staff and patrons are within six (6) feet of each other for 15 consecutive minutes or more.
-Six feet of separation between parties is required in all instances for the following: gyms/fitness centers, health spas, restaurants, bars, gentlemen and bottle clubs, weddings, funerals, indoor gatherings, and churches/places of worship.
The ordinance will last until November 30 and can be viewed here.
Nebraska has reported more the 85,000 cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 800 people have been hospitalized, and state officials said the number is climbing.
Some states have yet to issue a mask mandate but encourage residents to wear one. In Idaho, where 1 in every 223 residents has tested positive for the virus over the last week, Republican Gov. Brad Little wrote an opinion piece Monday imploring people to wear masks, though he said he does not have the authority to issue a statewide mandate.
In Oklahoma, where cases also are on the rise, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt will remain open to working with the federal government on a virus response, his spokesman, Charlie Hannema, said. But he cautioned against a heavy hand.
In Wyoming, where the number of new daily coronavirus cases has nearly doubled over the past two weeks, Gov. Mark Gordon said his administration will continue working with the White House coronavirus task force and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to tackle the issue.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.