Saturday, September 18, 2021

Latest Coronavirus: Washington DC Reinstates Indoor Masks Mandate

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The second-most-populous US state reported 10,086 new infections over the past day, up from about 6,600 on Tuesday, according to its health department. That marked the biggest daily increase in cases since February 9, according to state figures, and brings Texas’s seven-day average to more than 5,000. The latest jump in cases coincided with governor Greg Abbott’s issuance of an executive order restricting the ground transportation of “unlawful migrants” who pose a risk of carrying Covid-19, which he said was threatening the health of Texas communities.

Cautious pedestrians wear protective masks and gloves on Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas, at the height of the pandemic © Bloomberg

Texas had a single-day record of more than 27,000 cases on December 29, according to state data, although figures around public holidays (like Christmas) may have contributed to several high daily totals during the winter. The state had a peak seven-day average of almost 20,000 cases in mid-January.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas has reported a total of 39,397 coronavirus cases over the past week. That trails Florida (94,520) and California (43,725), which rank third and first in the US by population.

Adjusted for population, Texas has averaged about 19 new cases a day per 100,000 over the past week and ranks 14th among US states. That level of transmission, under the recently updated guidance from the CDC, should prompt leaders to recommend individuals wear masks in indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status.

Such a move is probably unlikely. Abbott lifted Texas’s mask mandate in March, but has insisted since then the statewide requirement would not be returning and that face coverings would not be required in schools.

Abbott on Wednesday said unlawful migrants crossing the US-Mexico border risked bringing Covid-19 into Texas communities and issued an executive order restricting their ground transportation.

“The dramatic rise in unlawful border crossings has also led to a dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases among unlawful migrants who have made their way into our state, and we must do more to protect Texans from this virus and reduce the burden on our communities,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

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