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Major Firms Will Continue To Mandate Face Masks in Texas and Mississippi

Health officials are warning that the decision by states to relax safety measures could lead to another surge in coronavirus infections.

Video source: YouTube, MSNBC

Despite the mask mandate being lifted in Texas and Mississippi, face masks will remain a requirement at several big businesses in those states.

Target Corporation, Kroger Company, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreen Company, Best Buy Co, Macy’s and JC Penney Company are among the companies that will continue to require masks for both employees and customers. 

The rule will also stay in effect at manufacturing facilities operated by General Motors Company and Toyota Motor Corporation, Reuters reported. 

A GM spokesperson told CNN that it will continue enforcing its COVID-19 safety practices that have been in place for the past year in order to ensure worker are protected and the company meets OSHA workplace standards. Kroger plans to keep the mask rule in effect until all of its frontline grocery workers can receive the vaccine, CNN reported. 

However, grocery chains H-E-B Grocery Company and Albertsons Companies will only require masks for employees. For customers, masks are only being recommended. 

The announcements Tuesday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves come as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline across the country and more Americans are vaccinated.

But, public health officials are warning that the decision to relax safety measures could lead to another surge, especially now as variants are spreading. 

During White House briefing Wednesday morning, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said the agency has been “very clear” that “now is not the time to release all restrictions.” 

She said, “As we scale up vaccination, we really do need to decrease the amount of virus that is circulating, as we’re trying to vaccinate all the public.” 

President Joe Biden criticized the decisions to drop the statewide mask mandates and other health guidelines on Wednesday afternoon as “Neanderthal thinking” and “a big mistake,” NBC News reported. 

Biden added, “I hope everyone realizes by now that masks make a big difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because the way in which we are able to get vaccines.”

The decision also drew concern from the retail sector.

In a statement to Reuters, Jason Brewer, vice president of communications at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said, “Relaxing common-sense safety protocols like wearing masks is a mistake.” 

Brewer added that rolling back safety measures will “unfairly put retail employees back in the. role of enforcing guidelines still recommended by the CDC and other public health advocates.”

A mask mandate remains in effect in 35 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Iowa, Montana and North Dakota dropped mask requirements last year.


Source: Equities News

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