This State Just Completely Changed Its Stance on Masks

Eight months into the pandemic, the governor of Utah has done a 180 and issued a mask mandate.

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As the threat of the pandemic hit frightening heights in the spring and summer, many governors started issuing statewide mask mandates to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Other states, however, noticeably did not mandate masks, with some governors voicing their opposition to issuing statewide government regulations on face coverings. But as coronavirus numbers spike once again, particularly in parts of the Midwest and West, it seems that some officials are changing their stance on masks. In fact, Utah just issued a statewide mask mandate this week for the first time since the pandemic began. Read on for more about this decision and for other areas cracking down on COVID, These States Are Starting to Lock Down Again.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced late at night on Nov. 8 that he would be issuing a statewide mask mandate in Utah after long refusing to do so, often saying that he expected "local governments to step up" and issue their own requirements, instead. "I wear [my mask] all the time … because it's the right thing to do," he previously said in September. "We don't have to be compelled by the government to do the right thing."

However, Herbert's tune has changed as Utah's coronavirus situation has worsened. According to the Utah State Department of Health, more than 6,000 people are currently being hospitalized in the state due to complications from COVID-19. And last week, the state's positivity rate was 21.25 percent—the highest it's ever been.

"Masks do not negatively affect our economy, and wearing them is the easiest way to slow the spread of the virus. We cannot afford to debate this issue any longer. Individual freedom is certainly important, and it is our rule of law that protects that freedom," Herbert said during a press conference on Nov. 8. "Laws are put in places to protect all of us. That's why we have traffic lights, speed limits and seatbelts, and that's why we now have a mask mandate."

The mandate went into effect on Nov. 9 and "will be extended for the foreseeable future," Herbert said, even though the official order expires on Nov. 23. The mandate requires that all Utahns wear a mask in public and when within six feet of anyone they don't live with. Businesses must also require employees and patrons to wear masks; if stores fail to do so, they face a fine.

However, the mask mandate is not the only safety provision that was put in place with Utah's new order. The other requirements, which are also set to expire Nov. 23, include limiting "casual social gatherings to household-only," putting all extracurricular activities on hold, and having students enrolled at high education institutions (who attend at least one in-person class per week) get tested for COVID-19 weekly.

But Utah wasn't the only state holding out on a mask mandate; some governors still have not done so. Read on for more states that have no mask requirements and for more on how to ID COVID, find out which Strange Symptom May Be the Earliest Sign You Have COVID.

Read the original article on Best Life.

1
South Carolina

Aerial view of Rainbow Row in downtown Charleston, SC
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Gov. Henry McMaster has encouraged South Carolinians to wear masks, but says he won't issue a statewide requirement because he feels that it would be unenforceable. According to The New York Times, South Carolina's COVID numbers are on the rise, though. Over the past week, the state has had an average of more than 1,000 cases every day, an increase of 15 percent from their average just two weeks ago. And for more COVID news, find out which States Now Have Curfews Again Due to COVID Surges.

2
Oklahoma

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Oklahoma has had an average of more than 2,000 cases every day this past week, marking a 53 percent increase from the average two weeks prior, according to The New York Times. Despite Gov. Kevin Stitt testing positive for COVID himself in July, he has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate. And for more signs you could have the virus yourself, check out If Everything You Drink Smells Like This, You May Have COVID.

3
Florida

Florida
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Not only does Florida not have a statewide mask mandate, but Gov. Ron DeSantis also issued an order on Sept. 25 preventing local governments from issuing penalties for those not wearing masks in the counties and cities that have issued mandates. According to The New York Times, Florida has had an average of more than 5,200 cases every day this past week, up 54 percent from the average two weeks ago. And for more useful content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4
Alaska

Sunset from the coast in Ketchikan, Alaska. Landscape coastal view along the ocean with buildings along the bay and mountain in background as the evening sun colors the cloudy/ overcast autumn sky.
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Alaska's Department of Health Social Services "strongly encourages the wearing of masks in public," but has no official statewide requirement. The state has also seen an increase in COVID numbers from two weeks ago, rising 53 percent, according to The New York Times. And for more COVID news, know that If You Live With Someone This Age, You're More Likely to Get COVID.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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