Masks are back: Major cities and states reinstate mask mandates

News & Politics

Many Americans are asking themselves, “Are masks coming back?” For residents of many cities across the country, mask mandates were brought back in the past week or are about to be implemented.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reinstituted indoor mask guidelines this week, even for fully vaccinated Americans. The new mandate is a complete reversal from the guidance it instituted in mid-May that did away with mandatory masks for fully vaccinated people.

Which cities have mask mandates?

St. Louis City and County in Missouri reintroduced mandatory mask-wearing indoors on July 23 for children as young as 5 years old, and even for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Savannah, Georgia, reinstated its face mask mandate on Monday, and is in effect until Aug. 25. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said the order calls for mandatory masks for everyone, even if they are vaccinated for the coronavirus, when they are not around immediate family.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) issued an order “requiring all persons in a public place, including private businesses and establishments, to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when indoors.”

Beginning at 5 a.m. Saturday, Washington, D.C., will require everyone over the age of 2, vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors in public places. “We will continue to do what is necessary to keep D.C. safe,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Starting Monday, Kansas City will impose a mandate requiring masks be worn in public indoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained. This order is set to expire on Aug. 28.

Which states have mask mandates?

Starting on Friday, the state of Nevada will impose a mask mandate in counties with “substantial or high transmission,” regardless of vaccine status. Based on CDC data, 12 of Nevada’s 17 counties are deemed as having substantial or high transmission, including Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Washoe, White Pine, and Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. The mask mandate will not apply to “certain activities or events, including but not limited to: athletes, performers, or musicians, to the extent other directives set forth less restrictive face covering requirements for those participants.”

Illinois is following CDC guidelines and is recommending that anyone in areas of “substantial or high transmission” should once again wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is recommending New Mexicans, including fully vaccinated citizens, wear face masks indoors.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) “strongly recommends” indoor masking, and warned that if COVID numbers increase, “We reserve the right to take more drastic action, including a statewide mask mandate.”

Where else are masks mandatory?

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) mandated masks in all Miami-Dade County facilities for everyone, regardless if they received the COVID-19 vaccine or not. The order could test a state law that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed in May that gives him the power to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the pandemic, including mask mandates and limitations on business operations.

Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous county, became the first major U.S. locality to reenact a mask mandate, which went into effect on July 17.

On Thursday, the Capitol Police informed Congress members that they will enforce a mask mandate in the House side of the Capitol complex. The Capitol Police threatened to arrest any staffers or visitors who did not comply with the order. Republican lawmakers reacted harshly to the order, some even declaring that they will openly defy the face covering mandate.

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