Face mask rules in every state
Following months of stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns due to the novel coronavirus, various regions in the United States on May 1 began the first phase of reopening. By May 20, restrictions had begun to lift in all states. But just a month later, Texas and Florida reversed course on their reopenings as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed. July 19 represented the fifth consecutive day that Florida reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. Amid these bleak numbers, many businesses and governing bodies across the U.S. are reconsidering rules for safe reopening.
At the center of this controversy is a debate over whether to mandate face coverings. The CDC recommends the use of face masks or cloth coverings in public places in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19; and a Texas A&M University study released June 12 found that not wearing a face mask dramatically increased the odds of spreading COVID-19. Despite these findings, a nationwide decision has not been made and rule-setting has been left up to individual states, counties, or cities.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp on July 16 sued in order to prevent Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms from requiring city residents to wear face masks in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, President Trump on July 20 tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask, claiming “There is nobody more patriotic than me, your favorite President!” Also in July, Facebook suspended an anti-mask group with 9,000 members for disseminating debunked claims about the efficacy of masks and their ill effects on mental health and personal freedoms.
Stacker scoured various state government reports and reputable news sources to pull together the most up-to-date information about face mask rules in all 50 states. All information is current as of July 22, 2020, and represents a number of changes in the last month alone.
Read on to find out whether or not face coverings are just a recommendation or mandate where you live.
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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on July 14 issued a statewide mask mandate for Alabama that would be in effect until at least July 31. That rule calls for all people to wear masks in public and when within close proximity to other people.
The Juneau Assembly on June 20 voted unanimously in favor of a 90-day mask mandate. That order was modeled after a similar rule passed as an emergency ordinance in Anchorage. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has recommended wearing face masks in public but does not support a statewide order to do so despite rising case counts.
In a study from the website Survival At Home, more than 150,000 geotagged Twitter data and hashtags were used to determine which states are most resistant to mask-wearing. Arizona ranked #1. Yet the state’s emboldened stance around closures and safety precautions has a growing consequence: As case counts continue to climb, businesses are shutting back down at the same time relief programs are slated to end. There is still no state mandate for mask-wearing. By July 21, Arizona had more than 148,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,918 deaths.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson put forth a statewide mask mandate as of July 20. That order makes mask-wearing compulsory in any indoor or outdoor setting where six feet of social distancing can not be maintained. The order gives an exemption to those gathering at religious services.
California has taken one of the strictest approaches in the country to face mask regulations. Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 19 made it a requirement to wear masks in public settings when social distancing isn't possible. It states that residents must wear face coverings when visiting indoor public spaces, including hospitals, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and on public transportation; in lines to enter places; and in any outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.
Exemptions to the mandate apply to those with underlying chronic lung disease, asthma, and those who have “developmental disabilities or intellectual delays," per CDC’s nationwide guidelines.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in mid-April made it a requirement that employees at grocery stores and other essential businesses wear face masks, but stopped short of expanding that requirement to the public. That changed July 16 when Polis mandated masks throughout the state following a rise in COVID-19 cases in Colorado.
Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order effective on April 20 that required residents to wear a face mask in public. It exempts children under the age of 2. Connecticut has banded together with New York and New Jersey in a June 21 travel advisory that as of July 21 requires visitors from 31 states to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
Delaware Gov. John Carney issued an executive order that as of May 1, face masks are required in public settings. He also clarified that the face mask ordinance was not to encourage people to go out in public more often, but if it is necessary to do so, a face mask must be worn.
Florida does not have a statewide requirement regarding face masks. But by June 21, as state COVID-19 cases continued setting new daily records, many local municipalities began implementing their own as lawmakers pressured Gov. Ron DeSantis to implement a statewide requirement for masks. In Miami-Dade County, nearly a dozen mayors by June 22 announced new requirements for mask-wearing in public. Dozens of other Florida towns and areas have followed suit.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, along with state health officials, have asked residents to use face masks, but there is no statewide requirement for the general public. In fact, Kemp on July 16 sued in order to prevent Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms from requiring city residents to wear face masks in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19.2018 All rights reserved.