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Coronavirus update: Mask mandates return, travelers cautioned about 16 more destinations

Some scientists question the data behind revised mask guidance

Photo (c) wildpixel - Getty Images
Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌ 

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 35,143,810 (35,007,771)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 613,834 (613,231)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 199,162,828 (198,519,853)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,240,761 (4,228,484)‌

The return of the mask mandate

One state, several counties, and a handful of retailers have begun to react to the latest mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), requesting even fully vaccinated people wear masks while indoors in public spaces.

Louisiana is the first state to reimpose a statewide mask mandate. Several San Francisco area counties have joined Los Angeles and Sacramento counties in doing the same.

McDonald’s and Home Depot are now requiring employees and customers to wear masks. Target has a mask mandate in areas of “substantial” or “high” spread.

CDC warns against travel to another 16 destinations

While travel has surged in the last two weeks, the spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant threatens to keep more people at home. The CDC added 16 more destinations to places that have a “very high” risk of infection this week.

The additional destinations include Greece, Ireland, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CDC said people traveling to those international destinations must be fully vaccinated.

“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19,” the CDC said. “However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants.”

Some scientists question data used to revise mask guidance

Health experts at the CDC used a report of widespread infections at Provincetown, Mass., to revise their mask guidance. But the Wall Street Journal reports that some officials within the health agency question whether the data, which was not peer-reviewed, is actually meaningful. 

They reportedly argue that more testing needs to be done, including tests that measure how infectious virus particles are.

“There’s no one-to-one relationship between high viral load and infectivity, but we’re always making decisions based on imperfect data,” former CDC Director Tom Frieden told the Journal.

Around the nation

  • New York: While some major cities and counties have reimposed mask mandates for everyone, New York City has not yet taken that step. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he “strongly encourages” everyone to wear a mask while indoors.

  • Texas: The coronavirus is quickly spreading across Texas, but it’s infecting mostly the unvaccinated population. An analysis by the Texas Tribune shows that this group is mostly made up of white conservatives in rural areas and Black and Hispanic residents in large cities.

  • Pennsylvania: State health officials reported more than 3,000 new cases of the virus over the weekend, calling it a worrisome trend. But they point out that the number of new cases is still a fraction of what it was back in December when the state was reporting more than 10,000 new cases a day.

  • Hawaii: The surge in the number of tourists flocking to Hawaii to escape COVID-19 stress isn’t sitting well with residents of the state. Officials said they are considering restrictions on the number of non-residents who will be allowed to visit Oahu.

  • Oregon: As cases of the virus surge, Gov. Kate Brown has ordered state agencies to formulate rules requiring masks for anyone in an indoor school setting this fall. Many local school boards around the state denounced the move, saying it should be left to local control.

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