Five states set up border screening checkpoints; attorney Emily Compagno weighs in.
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Governors in more than a dozen states have implemented executive orders or some sort of official guidelines for residents to wear face masks or coverings when in public as part of their coronavirus response efforts — in the latest wave of restrictions at the local level.
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the executive order for the state, which has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., requiring New Yorkers to wear some sort of face covering in situations where social distancing is not possible, such as while riding on public transit or walking in crowded areas and stores.
“Put the mask on when you are not in socially distant places,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “It is your right to go out for a walk in the park, go out for a walk because you need to get out of the house…fine, don’t infect me. You don’t have a right to infect me.”
The order in New York is slated to go into effect on Friday.
But New York is not alone.
In Maryland, GOP Gov. Larry Hogan also issued an order Wednesday, which is slated to go into effect Friday, requiring residents to use face coverings on any public transportation and in any “enclosed area of any Retail Establishment or Foodservice Establishment.” The order also requires that all retail and food establishments have their staff wear face coverings, and requires children ages 2 to 9 to also wear coverings.
Hogan’s order said that “single-use face coverings shall be properly discarded in trash receptacles,” and that reusable face coverings “be cleaned frequently.”
The order also notes that while “Medical-Grade Masks” satisfy the requirements, Hogan said that those types of masks should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.
Also on Wednesday, Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an order extending the District’s public health emergency through May 15 and requiring that masks be worn by a range of different people.
Bowser’s order requires the following individuals to wear masks or face coverings: hotel workers, guests and visitors; individuals using taxis, ride shares and private transportation providers; and workers and customers of food sellers. Masks are “strongly encouraged” for workers and individuals using public transit.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced over the weekend that customers entering New Jersey restaurants and bars to pick up takeout food will now be required to wear face coverings, in the governor’s latest step to curb the spread of the virus.
And in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, governors have also required that workers and customers of essential businesses wear masks or face coverings to curb the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, states like California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Texas and Vermont have not yet issued full executive orders requiring face masks, but have encouraged residents to wear face masks and coverings when social distancing is not possible.
Stricter rules apply at the local level. In Los Angeles, Calif., residents are now required to wear a face mask whenever shopping or in public, despite a lack of a statewide order; and residents in South Florida; Honolulu, Hawaii; Austin, Texas; and towns in Massachusetts have been ordered to do the same.
The move comes as governors across the nation weigh their options as to when they will be able to ease social distancing measures and reopen their economies.
Cuomo, along with the northeastern governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware, earlier this week announced a regional effort to eventually reopen the economy in a “coordinated way” amid the coronavirus crisis.
“We should start looking forward to ‘reopening’, but reopening with a plan and a smart plan because if you do it wrong, it can backfire,” Cuomo said during the event. “What the art form is going to be here is doing that smartly and doing that productively and doing that in a coordinated way — in coordination with other states in the area and doing it as a cooperative effort where we learn from each other, where we share information, share resources, where we share intelligence.”
He added: “No one has done this before—it’s one step forward after research and consultation with experts–I’m not a public health expert but this has to be informed by experts.”
Cuomo said that each state will name an economic developer and a health official that will be led by each governor’s chief of staff to “form a working group that will start work immediately on designing a reopening plan,” while taking into consideration “the public health concerns and issues and the economic reactivation issues and concerns.”
As of Thursday, the U.S. reported more than 639,700 positive cases of COVID-19 and more than 30,900 deaths.