More governments and retailers are requiring masks

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Louisiana is the first to reimpose a statewide mask mandate

A week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its mask guidance, several national retailers, along with one state and several counties, have adopted new mask guidance.

The CDC guidance said fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask when indoors in areas of “substantial” or “high” virus transmission. The state of Louisiana and several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have adopted rules requiring everyone to mask up when in public indoor spaces.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has temporarily reimposed a statewide mask mandate, the first state to do so. 

“It has never been more clear that we are in an unchecked COVID surge that, in addition to threatening the health and wellbeing of many Louisianans, also threatens the capacity of our hospitals and medical facilities to deliver care to their patients,” Edwards said in a statement. “That is simply unacceptable.”

Meanwhile,  seven San Francisco Bay Area counties will require that people wear masks indoors in public spaces starting today. Masks are required in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma counties, along with the city of Berkeley. Those jurisdictions join Los Angeles and Sacramento counties that reinstated mask rules last week.

Retailers put masks back on

A growing number of retailers have also turned back the clock and are requiring customers and employees to mask up. McDonald’s and Home Depot both have mandated masks for all employees in customers in most areas of the country.

Target said it would require employees and customers, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks at its stores in areas of substantial or high transmission. In some states, such as Mississippi, that’s the entire state.

Late last week, Kroger said all employees would be required to wear masks in its stores and “strongly encouraged” all customers to do so.  

These changes are all in response to the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus that is sweeping the country. It appears to be affecting vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, but in different ways.

Vaccinated people have less severe symptoms

While hospitalizations are up, it is mostly the unvaccinated who are experiencing severe symptoms. Anecdotal evidence suggests vaccinated people have mild or no symptoms.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is the latest high-profile COVID-19 case. Graham said he tested positive after attending a social gathering that included several other lawmakers.

The 66-year-old senator is fully vaccinated and said he is suffering only mild symptoms. “I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms,” Graham said. “I will be quarantining for ten days."

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