Mask recommendations and requirements are changing again as national and local leaders confront a fresh wave of the coronavirus outbreak amid a flagging vaccination campaign and the start of a new school year.

The New York Times is tracking mask policies at the state level, including where residents are advised to follow current federal guidance and where leaders are rejecting such guidance or mandates.


Where Masks Are Mandated in Schools

Mandated for some students

Note: In Nevada, masks are required in schools located in counties with populations of 100,000 or more. In New Mexico, masks are required regardless of vaccination status in elementary schools, and required for the unvaccinated in secondary schools. In Texas, courts have allowed some local requirements to take effect despite a statewide ban on mandates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all students, teachers and staff in K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. But in many parts of the country, parents and local leaders have pushed back hard against mask requirements in schools, and the result is a patchwork of policies as students head back into the classroom.

Several states have gone so far as to ban mask mandates in schools, the latest sign of the ongoing clash between politics and public health. And local officials are not always in sync with state leaders. In Texas, for example, courts have ruled in favor of two counties seeking to require masks in schools in defiance of the governor’s ban on such mandates.

The C.D.C. says universal mask-wearing is an important coronavirus prevention measure that will allow as many students as possible to return to in-person instruction.

Mask guidance by county

The federal guidance for schools dovetails with updated recommendations for people living in areas experiencing coronavirus outbreaks.

The C.D.C. also now recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places in those areas.

A majority of counties across the United States are experiencing either “substantial” or “high” transmission rates that call for indoor mask-wearing, according to the C.D.C. These designations, which are updated regularly, are based on an area’s per capita case rate or test positivity rate.


Where the C.D.C. Recommends Wearing a Mask Indoors

Guidance is based on the C.D.C.’s assessment of the level of community transmission in each county.

Optional for the vaccinated

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention·Note: Community transmission level is based on C.D.C. case data for the week ending Aug. 10 and test positivity data for the week ending Aug. 8.

The guidance reflects the recent surge of coronavirus cases in many parts of the country, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. Though the C.D.C. has been criticized for its back-and-forth recommendations on masks, public health experts say the most recent change was necessary.

“All of us, as public health professionals and scientists — we are learning about this virus in real time,” said Rachel Graham, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “These are things that have to be mapped out from day to day.”

Mask policies by state

Masks remain a polarizing symbol, and the shifting federal guidelines have led some local leaders to introduce their own policies. While some governors are once again moving to require masks in their state, several are resisting the idea of universal mask mandates.




Hawaii

Mandated statewide

80%

(4 counties)

Louisiana

Mandated statewide

100%

(64 counties)

Puerto Rico

Mandated

95%

(74 counties)

Washington, D.C.

Mandated

100%

(1 county)

Nevada

Mandated in some counties

82%

(14 counties)

Arkansas

Recommended statewide

100%

(75 counties)

California

Recommended statewide

97%

(56 counties)

Connecticut

Recommended statewide

100%

(8 counties)

Idaho

Recommended statewide

89%

(39 counties)

Mississippi

Recommended statewide

100%

(82 counties)

New Jersey

Recommended statewide

100%

(21 counties)

New Mexico

Recommended statewide

97%

(32 counties)

New York

Recommended statewide

81%

(50 counties)

Oregon

Recommended statewide

97%

(35 counties)

Illinois

Recommended in some counties

98%

(100 counties)

Indiana

Recommended in some counties

100%

(92 counties)

Kansas

Recommended in some counties

91%

(96 counties)

Kentucky

Recommended in some counties

100%

(120 counties)

Maine

Recommended in some counties

81%

(13 counties)

Michigan

Recommended in some counties

73%

(61 counties)

Minnesota

Recommended in some counties

92%

(80 counties)

North Carolina

Recommended in some counties

100%

(100 counties)

Pennsylvania

Recommended in some counties

78%

(52 counties)

Virginia

Recommended in some counties

95%

(126 counties)

Washington

Recommended in some counties

97%

(38 counties)

Wyoming

Recommended in some counties

100%

(23 counties)

Alabama

No mandate or recommendation

99%

(66 counties)

Alaska

No mandate or recommendation

86%

(25 counties)

Colorado

No mandate or recommendation

84%

(54 counties)

Delaware

No mandate or recommendation

100%

(3 counties)

Maryland

No mandate or recommendation

96%

(23 counties)

Massachusetts

No mandate or recommendation

93%

(13 counties)

New Hampshire

No mandate or recommendation

100%

(10 counties)

Ohio

No mandate or recommendation

97%

(85 counties)

Oklahoma

No mandate or recommendation

97%

(75 counties)

Rhode Island

No mandate or recommendation

100%

(5 counties)

Utah

No mandate or recommendation

93%

(27 counties)

Vermont

No mandate or recommendation

71%

(10 counties)

West Virginia

No mandate or recommendation

95%

(52 counties)

Wisconsin

No mandate or recommendation

90%

(65 counties)

Arizona

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

100%

(15 counties)

Florida

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

100%

(67 counties)

Georgia

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

100%

(159 counties)

Iowa

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

92%

(91 counties)

Missouri

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

99%

(114 counties)

Montana

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

88%

(49 counties)

Nebraska

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

35%

(33 counties)

North Dakota

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

62%

(33 counties)

South Carolina

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

100%

(46 counties)

South Dakota

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

52%

(34 counties)

Tennessee

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

100%

(95 counties)

Texas

Rejection or ban on mask mandates

95%

(242 counties)


Note: States determine mask policies at the county level based on the C.D.C.’s data on county transmission levels, except for Wyoming, which uses its own index for counties. Local orders may differ from state requirements.

Some public health experts never stopped recommending that both the vaccinated and unvaccinated wear masks.

“I personally would have recommended it, anyway,” Dr. Graham said. “Especially because the fully vaccinated rate is not as high as we were hoping it would be.”

And though the vaccines offered in the United States are highly effective at preventing serious illness from Covid-19, some experts point to a growing number of reports of vaccinated people testing positive for the coronavirus, and reports of children, previously thought to be a low-risk group, also contracting the virus.

“No vaccine is 100 percent effective, and we are seeing that,” said Dr. Joshua Liao, an internal medicine physician and a professor at the University of Washington, who recommends mask-wearing indoors. “If you wait for the science to be perfect with coronavirus, then you’re lagging behind.”

“I think that back and forth does create a certain kind of fatigue,” he added. “But I think there is a bigger issue, in the underpinning of public health, where it’s not just in our hands, but it’s in each other’s hands.”


Source From Nytimes

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