Most states require face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While health officials agree face masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19, state and local governments have varied widely on implementation of mask rules. Now, President-elect Joe Biden wants to change that. While health officials agree face masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19, state and local governments have varied widely on implementation of mask rules. Now, President-elect Joe Biden wants to change that.
Most states already have some type of mask mandate, but some have no statewide rule — either leaving it as a recommendation or giving the authority to local officials.
Three states recently added face mask mandates: North Dakota, Iowa and Montana. Montana’s goes into effect November 20.
On November 13, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced a new measure requiring face coverings in indoor businesses and indoor public settings as well as outdoor public settings where physical distancing isn’t possible. The order is effective through December 13.
And on November 16, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation that requires a face mask when people are in an indoor public space and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday said she is issuing an “updated version” of a previous executive order on masks. The new protocol will create a standard for the state, “but also gives communities the ownership and flexibility to decide how best to implement it,” Kelly said at a news conference.
Masks are not a political statement, Biden says
In a speech Monday, Biden implored Americans to stop politicizing masks and social distancing.
“Please, I implore you, wear a mask,” the President-elect said. “Do it for yourself, do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement but it is a way to start pulling the country together.”
During the campaign, Biden spoke of his plan to issue a nationwide mask mandate. Doing so could be challenged in court, though, and in October Biden said he would go to every governor and urge them to issue mask mandates.
“And if they refuse, I’ll go to the mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place nationwide,” he said.
Because the virus is mainly airborne, face masks are the most effective way to stop person-to-person spread of Covid-19, studies have shown.
“Wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, prior to the development of a vaccine,” researchers in Texas and California wrote back in June.
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