“I am fully in favor of masks,” Trump said during an interview, despite previously saying the image was not suitable for a wartime president, and accusing journalists of putting them on to be politically correct.
However, Trump insisted that there was still no need for a national mandate despite a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.
The example that Trump set with his attitude towards face masks reflects a national dilemma that has caused each state to adopt its own measures, which has given rise to a hodgepodge of policies that public health experts have criticized for allowing the virus. continue to spread.
“Science is clear”
Florida Medical Association President Dr. Ronald Giffler released a statement last week saying that wearing a face mask can save lives.
“The science is clear on this. Asymptomatic infected people can release infectious aerosol particles by breathing and talking. Failure to wear a mask or cover the face increases exposure, while universal use of the mask greatly reduces the spread of viral particles, “said Giffler.
Some states, cities, and counties have adopted mandatory mask wear ordinances, both in stores and outdoors, except for people who exercise or with certain medical conditions that affect their breathing.
Measurements vary by state
Some 19 states have mandated the massive use of face masks by the general public, according to an analysis by Univision News based on data from the National Association of Governors. Texas was the most recent to require wearing masks in almost all of its counties as of this Friday.
Six states have filed criminal charges or citations for noncompliance with the face mask ordinances, while six have chosen to impose fines, according to the COVID-19 US state policy database, from the Boston University School of Public Health .
Some 18 states have limited orders requiring the use of face masks only in certain public spaces or businesses that require close personal contact, such as hair salons.
States that managed to flatten and reduce the curve, such as New York, Michigan and Illinois, imposed mandatory orders for the widespread use of face masks before their reopening.
For their part, states that are currently experiencing the worst outbreaks, some cases at alarming growth rates, such as Florida and Arizona, chose not to impose the widespread use of face masks along with their reopening plans.
Texas also suffered a major spike in cases, prompting Governor Gregg Abbott to stop opposing the mandatory use of face masks and impose a $ 250 fine on people who are caught not wearing them.
In states that have chosen not to impose general use of face masks, they have generally seen a rebound in new cases, some with alarming growth rates, such as Florida and Arizona.
California has also seen a significant spike in cases, forcing state authorities to impose a face mask ordinance on June 18, however, it has yet to experience a decrease in the spread of the coronavirus.
In a study on state mandates published online, Professors Wei Lyu and George L. Wehby discovered “a significant decrease in the daily growth rate of Covid-19 after ordering the use of face masks in public, with an effect that increases with time after order is issued. ”
Specifically, the daily case rate decreased by approximately one or two percentage points over time. Although that number might seem small, they calculated that as a result, between 230,000 and 450,000 cases of Covid-19 may have been avoided, before the study that ended on May 22. With the rebound in cases in the southern states in recent weeks, thousands more cases would have been added to that calculation.
They also found no evidence of decreases in the daily growth rates of the Covid-19 with mandates only for employees in stores and businesses.
There is also a notable ideological divide. Most states that have imposed cloth mask or facemask requirements have Democratic Party governors who say public health should be a top priority. States that don’t have these requirements are controlled by Republicans, who say they prefer to respect the individual decision.
More young people
Until now, in most states where cases are increasing, hospitals have been able to cope with them, mainly because most new cases involve younger, healthier people.
“Young people are not being hospitalized in large numbers,” said Szapocznik. Still, he said, “There are more young people hospitalized because more young people get the virus because they are not used to wearing masks.”
After weeks locked up in their Miami homes, the youth flocked to local restaurants and dance clubs after being allowed to reopen on June 4. Social distancing rules required the use of face masks on the dance floor, in close proximity to others, but not on tables.
Dancing in Miami
“My friends and I have been trying to be very good about it. We don’t kiss when we greet each other, and we do it with our elbows. But he still gave me (Covid-19),” said Sofia, 22, who asked that your last name will not be used. He said he believes he contracted the virus after his brother went to dance at the ‘Tucandela’ bar in Miami. “I feel bad because it was five days before I was tested. I could have spread it in various places where I have been, like the supermarket,” he added.
Health officials fear the situation may change if older, less healthy people end up being infected. Sofia and her brother are now quarantined in their rooms. Her parents were also tested, but the results were negative.
According to experts, the highest number of youth cases with Covid is likely due to more tests being conducted, which means the outbreak in the South is detected at a somewhat earlier stage than the first outbreak in New York. .
Otherwise, community broadcasting will continue to grow rapidly and reach those who are most at risk.
“Over time, they will start going to hospitals and die, it may not be right away, it may take a couple of weeks or maybe longer, but it will happen,” Hanage warned. The latest spike in the positive cases was especially troubling, he added, because “it’s happening in a much larger total population than the spring outbreaks.”
This is why health officials say protective measures, such as a face mask, social distancing, and hand washing, are so important. “The outcome depends more on the behavior of the people than on the public health system or the state government. If people ignore the epidemic, it will be very difficult to control it. And the leadership should inspire people to be more cautious,” said Barry Bloom. , a professor of public health at Harvard University, on a conference call.
The less severe symptoms could also be the result of a mutation of the virus, after which a weaker strain has been created. “Viruses don’t want to kill the carrier. The virus dies when the carrier dies,” Dr. Andrew Pastewski, ICU Medical Director of Jackson Medical Center in Miami, told Univision.
New medical treatments have also helped doctors better understand the disease. One drug, Remdesivir, is credited with faster recovery for Covid patients, which has reduced the burden on hospitals.
But as cases increase, hospitals begin to reach full capacity, especially in Arizona and Texas, causing states to postpone the planned reopening of their economies.
Florida and Texas quickly took action this week to close bars and gyms. South Florida counties closed their beaches for the weekend of July 4. Miami-Dade County, the largest in Florida, also implemented mandatory indoor and outdoor mask use orders, as well as the closure of some entertainment businesses and a curfew starting at 10:00 pm.
However, even after Florida reported a new record number in daily cases, 10,019, on Thursday, the Florida governor refused to order the general use of face masks in public.
“The surprising thing is that we knew exactly what to do and what not to do to reduce the numbers. And now we have decided to do what causes the numbers to increase,” added Szapocznik.
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