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As the argument over mandating the use of a face mask vs. protecting personal freedoms escalates, some governors across the United States are finding themselves without a choice—and issuing mandates. "We cannot afford to debate this issue any longer," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, said this week, issuing a statewide mask mandate, among other restrictions. As his states and others see hospitals overflowing, leaders are taking action, hoping to keep businesses open but save lives. Read on to hear about the most recent crackdowns in the states hit hardest, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Utah Just Issued a Statewide Mask Mandate
With more than 2,200 cases a day and a 20% positivity rate, Utah has issued an executive order that includes a mask mandate and other restrictions. "We cannot afford to debate this issue any longer," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said. "The number of infections in our state is growing at an alarming rate. Our hospitals in Utah are among the best in the world. But they cannot give the best care when hospitals are at capacity and medical professionals are exhausted and spread too thin, and that is what is happening now," Herbert said. Limits on social gatherings and extracurricular sports were also ordered. Businesses remain open with some restrictions. "Individual freedom is certainly important, and it is our rule of law that protects that freedom. Laws are put in place to protect all of us. That's why we have traffic lights, speed limits and seat belts, and that's why we now have a mask mandate," Herbert said.
Oregon Counties Want All Businesses to Work From Home
"Following a record-breaking day of COVID-19 cases in Oregon, officials on Friday announced new restrictions that will be implemented in at least five of the state's counties as part of a two-week pause on social activities," reports the AP. "The updated safety measures, which begin Nov. 11, include halting visitations to long-term care facilities, reducing the capacity of indoor dining at restaurants to 50 people, encouraging all business to mandate work from home and urging Oregonians not to gather with people who do not live in their household, but if they do to limit it to six people."
Massachusetts' Stay-at-Home Advisory is Now in Effect
"More stringent coronavirus restrictions are now in effect in Massachusetts, including a statewide curfew, expanded mask requirements and enforcement of gathering limits," reports NBC Boston. "The new guidelines took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday with a goal of slowing the rise in COVID-19 cases and preventing the state from reverting to Phase 1 or 2 of reopening. Gov. Charlie Baker said they will likely remain in place for at least a month." "It takes at least two weeks—more like four weeks—to know if an intervention does anything," Dr. Helen Boucher of Tufts Medical Center told the news station. "We're coming into winter and we're seeing rising infection rates around us. So I think we're in for a period of hard work."
Texas' El Paso Businesses Will Remain Shut Down
"A Texas district judge on Friday upheld an order from El Paso County's top elected official shutting down businesses while the region fights an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases," reports the AP. "The decision from Judge Bill Moody of El Paso's 34th District Court came as federal military medical teams deployed to the border region at the request of the state. The county's top elected official, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential activities late last week. In making his decision, Moody pointed out that during the Spanish flu pandemic in the early part of the 20th century, city and county elected officials had authority to respond as they 'thought was necessary to protect the health and financial interests of their individual communities.'"
New Jersey May Announce Restrictions Today
"Governor Phil Murphy is expected to make a big announcement on Monday after news of a spike in COVID-19 positivity in the state," reports ABC 7. "In New Jersey, the positivity has ticked up to 6%, and the numbers have been going up across the Tri-State area. It's expected that Governor Murphy may announce new restrictions and possibly roll back some of the restaurant openings. The state has had infection rates as high as 8% within this past week."
New York May Be Next
"We are obviously in a different phase with COVID," New York Governor Cuomo said on a Friday. "You're seeing global and national surges that are dramatic. That's the new reality of COVID. The challenge for our state, like other states, is managing the increase." He's considering further restrictions, and has the National Guard enforcing testing at local airports. "You should not land if you do not have proof of a negative test upon landing. I want people to know we're serious." As for yourself, no matter where you live, wear your face mask, social distance, avoid crowds, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.