States reverse openings, require masks amid virus resurgence
In this June 27, 2020, photo, people are tested in their in vehicles in Phoenix's western neighborhood of Maryvale in Phoenix for free COVID-19 tests organized by Equality Health Foundation, which focuses on care in underserved communities. Arizona's Republican governor shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms and water parks Monday, June 29. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Arizona's Republican governor shut down bars, movie theatres, gyms and water parks Monday and leaders in several states ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide.
Among those implementing the face-covering orders is the city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Donald Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August.
Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's order went into effect immediately and for at least 30 days. Ducey also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until at least Aug. 17.
Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after the governor's stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire in mid-May.
Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 marks.
Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1,588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.
“Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” Ducey said Monday.
The state is not alone in its reversal. Places such as Texas, Florida and California are backtracking, closing beaches and bars in some cases amid a resurgence of the virus.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that he’s postponing the restarting of indoor dining because people have not been wearing face masks or complying with recommendations for social distancing.
New Jersey has been slowly reopening, and on Monday indoor shopping malls were cleared to start business again.
Democratic governors in Oregon and Kansas said Monday that they would require people to wear masks. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s order will require people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces starting Wednesday.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she will issue an executive order mandating the use of masks in stores and shops, restaurants, and in any situation where social distancing of 6 feet (2 meters) cannot be maintained, including outside. The order goes into effect Friday.
“The evidence could not be clearer: Wearing a mask is not only safe, but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown,” Kelly said.
Idaho is moving in a different direction, at least when it comes to the elections. Despite the continuing spread of the virus, state elections officials said Monday that they would allow in-person voting — as well as mail-in ballots — for August primaries and the November general election, the Idaho Statesman reported. Idaho’s May 19 primary was the first statewide election held by mail only.
The primary had record voter turnout.
In Texas, a group of bar owners sued on Monday to try to overturn Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order closing their businesses.
They contend Abbott doesn’t have the authority, and they complained that other businesses, such as nail salons and tattoo studios, remain open.
“Gov. Abbott continues to act like a king,” said Jared Woodfill, attorney for the bar owners. “Abbott is unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights.”
But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that Abbott is on the right path, and he added that Trump should order the wearing of masks.
“States that were recalcitrant ... are doing a 180, and you have the same states now wearing masks,” Cuomo said.
“Let the president have the same sense to do that as an executive order, and then let the president lead by example and let the president put a mask on it because we know it works.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has opposed a statewide mask requirement but said in response to Jacksonville’s action that he will support local authorities who are doing what they think is appropriate.
In recent weeks, the Republicans moved some of the convention pageantries to Jacksonville after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina objected to the holding of a large gathering in Charlotte without social-distancing measures.
Less than a week after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said there would be no mask requirement, city officials announced on Monday that coverings must be worn in “situations where individuals cannot socially distance.”
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany responded by saying the president’s advice is to “do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”
Elsewhere around the world, Britain reimposed lockdown restrictions on the city of Leicester after a spike in cases, ordering the closing of schools along with stores that do not sell essential goods.
India set another record with a one-day total of 20,000 newly confirmed infections. Several Indian states have reimposed partial or full lockdowns after the total number of cases jumped by nearly 100,000 in one week to about 548,000.
In China, nearly 8.3 million out of about 21 million have undergone testing in recent weeks in Beijing after an outbreak centred on a wholesale market. The country reported just 12 new cases Monday, including seven in Beijing.
South Korean authorities reported 47 new cases as they struggled to curb outbreaks that have spread from Seoul to other regions.
Officials said they are preparing to impose stronger social-distancing measures — including banning gatherings of more than 10 people, shutting schools and halting professional sports — if the daily increase in infections doubles more than twice in a week.
In the Philippines, a Southeast Asian coronavirus hot spot with more than 35,000 confirmed infections, local officials came under fire for allowing a street parade and dance during a weekend religious festival to honour St. John the Baptist despite prohibitions against public gatherings.
The European Union is preparing a list of 15 countries whose citizens will be allowed to visit the bloc beginning Wednesday, Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, told the Cadena SER radio network.
Because of the resurgence in the U.S., America may not be on that list.
“This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries. This is an exercise of self-responsibility,” she said.