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More businesses mandating masks as CDC calls for universal policy

Health experts say the science is sound: Masks help stop the spread of the coronavirus, and despite resistance to mandating their use, more businesses like Starbucks – and as of Monday, Walmart – are requiring customers to use them.

“The time is now,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The data is clearly there that masking works.”

Redfield had a clear message: wearing masks works, and in an editorial published by the American Medical Association, he said wearing masks slows the spread of the virus. Doing that means communities won’t have to bring back disruptive policies like stay-at-home orders and closing businesses.

Without a clear nationwide mask mandate or a local mandate, people are free to choose if they want to wear a mask while in public, and some businesses are making the decision for them. Starbucks’ mask mandate went into effect Wednesday, requiring customers to wear masks while in the store. Walmart announced it will require customers at its stores, including Sam’s Club stores, to wear masks starting Monday.

The changes are coming just in time. According to the latest data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Florida has about 10 days to make a decision that will impact the course of the virus. If the state enacts a universal mask policy, the daily COVID-19 death rate will plummet.

“If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control,” Redfield said.

Walmart said Wednesday it will have trained health ambassadors in its stores to ensure everyone who can wear a mask is doing so.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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