Washington DC is the last US municipality to enact a mandate for indoor masks, and DC officials went one step further, urging residents to wear masks in “large outdoor environments.”
The new mask policy takes effect July 31 at 5 a.m. and requires everyone over the age of two to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
The requirement applies to people who do not eat in restaurants, but for sporting events such as baseball games, no mask is required.
Masks are being reintroduced across the US as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads across the country and now accounts for 83 percent of the country’s COVID cases, according to the CDC.
Washington DC joins Kansas City, Savannah in Georgia and Los Angeles who have already introduced inside mask mandates, as do a few private companies, including Facebook, Google, Netflix, Morgan Stanley and the Washington Post.
Workers in Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, will be required to wear masks indoors again. Under new rules, customers are not forced to do so.
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Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Implements Inner Mask Mandate Effective July 31
At a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Bowser said the masks are being reintroduced due to the Delta variant
Washington DC has seen a 37.8 percent spike in cases in the past week
Washington DC has seen a 37.8 percent spike in the number of cases in the past week, including several members of the Washington Nationals baseball team.
The Nationals were forced to postpone their game Wednesday night after four players and eight staffers tested positive and all but one were vaccinated.
dr. Washington DC health director LaQuandra Nesbitt said at a news conference Thursday that the number of cases has increased fivefold so far in July.
Virus rates are “shifting to the younger population,” Nesbitt said, and have increased for children ages 5 to 14 and young adults ages 20 to 34. The vaccine is only approved for children 12 years and older.
Many new cases have been linked to travel, dining out and social activities in large groups, she said.
Nesbitt said the vaccines “work as intended” even when vaccinated people test positive for the coronavirus because symptoms are milder and they don’t require hospitalization.
In the US Capitol, police were originally ordered to arrest visitors and staff who refuse to wear masks on the House side of the Capitol complex, but the department changed course following backlash from Republican lawmakers.
Many Republicans opposed forcing people to wear masks and stuck to their belief that masks are all about politics.
To resolve tensions, the US Capitol Police pulled back on Thursday and said they would ask people in the House of Representatives who were not wearing face masks to leave.
But the agency did not specifically rule out arrests, but said it should never come to that.
“As for the house mask rule, there’s no reason anyone should ever be arrested. Anyone who does not comply with the rule is asked to wear a mouth mask or to leave the building. The Department’s requirement for officers to wear masks is for their health and safety,” the US Capitol Police tweeted in a statement.
On Tuesday, the CDC updated its guidelines for indoor masks to protect against the spread of the Delta variant, but it has become a political lightning rod.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page implemented a mandate for an indoor mask for children ages five and older on Monday, but the County Council made a sharp turn, revoking the mandate in a controversial 5-2 vote Tuesday night.
Residents spoke for hours against wearing masks before the vote, and the county’s director of public health – Dr. Faisal Khan – was bumped, pushed and called a ‘fat brown c**t’ and ‘brown b*****d’ after he spoke in favor of wearing a mask.
While the number of cases is rising in the US, they are falling in the UK.
The daily number of new infections registered in the country fell for seven consecutive days before Wednesday’s slight increase, when the country reported 27,734 cases, which is about half the reported cases last week.
Meanwhile, in the US, the CDC reported a seven-day average of 40,246 new cases, a peak of 46.7 percent since last week.