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RIDING FOR A FALL: These US states won’t mandate masks

Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin. With coronavirus infections continuing to surge south of the border, these four states still refuse to require residents to wear masks or face coverings. Call them the four states of the apocalypse.

According to ABC News, citing a report from Masks4All, a volunteer organization that advocates for more mask-wearing, this contemptible quartet are the only four amongst 50 states that have no statewide or local requirements at all, although it should also be noted that measures in many states are strictly voluntary, and in late May Texas, for one, banned penalties for violations.

This in comparison to at least 18 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington DC, that require face covering and social distancing in public places.

Moreover, an ABC/Ipsos poll conducted last week (June 25) indicated that 89% of Americans said they had worn a mask or face coverings in week previous. The percentage was a significant increase over the 55% who said they wore masks on April 8.

Even the federal administration (though not Donald Trump) seems to be getting onboard. At a news conference in Texas on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence donned a mask and advised Americans to “wear a mask, wherever it’s indicated.”

And US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called on Americans Monday morning to practice social distancing and wear face masks in public.

“We have all got to as Americans act responsibly, even as we reopen and get back to work, get back to school and get back to health care, we’ve got to practice social distancing. We’ve got to use face coverings when we can’t practice social distancing,” Azar said in an interview on “Good Morning America.”

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said a national mask mandate is “long overdue” while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in May that refusing to wear a mask in public is outright disrespectful, adding, “You can literally kill someone because you did not want to wear a mask. How cruel and irresponsible would that be?”

The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people wear face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, adding, “cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.”

To date, the US has reported over 2.5 million cases of COVID-19 including more than 125,000 deaths, including a one-day surge on Sunday of nearly 39,000 cases.

Despite this, in keeping with state policy, Iowa’s school board guidelines released last week not only did not mandate face coverings or other measures in class, but said they were “not recommended.”

Similarly, earlier this month universities in Montana were explicitly told that they could not mandate face coverings, though some wish to do so. It should be noted that Governor Steve Bullock, early in the pandemic, did urge Montanans to wear masks.

Officials in South Dakota and Wisconsin have similarly recommended, but not mandated, the wearing of face coverings.

Yet, the result, in one example illustrated by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was that only 41 percent of over 3,000 grocery shoppers were observed wearing masks during a (late May) study conducted by students.

So, what of Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, and Wisconsin? Clearly the time has come for these four states to get the with the program. Face coverings should be worn – if for no other reason in their cases than shame.

Meanwhile…

Mayor Lenny Curry

The city of Jacksonville, where Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination, enacted a mandatory mask requirement for public and indoor locations, and “in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance.”

This is a reversal from city leaders. On June 23, Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry said he didn’t plan to issue a mask mandate.

“I do not think that’s a prudent action to take,” Curry said at the time. “We do not need to have law enforcement out in public enforcing this. It’s not an efficient use of resources and we’re not going to prosecute people, start prosecuting people, ticketing people and arresting people because they choose not to wear a mask.”

He had urged people to wear masks and to socially distance themselves. The Republican event is scheduled to be held in Jacksonville in late August.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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