A new report suggests that wearing a cloth mask doesn’t just protect others from COVID-19, it can protect you as well.
The nation’s largest retailers are now requiring what some states and cities won’t: the use of face masks.
Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger are the biggest to announce mask mandates at stores nationwide joining the list of businesses with face covering requirements growing as COVID-19 cases rise. The coronavirus causes the disease COVID-19.
Dozens and dozens of states now require masks in public places, with Alabama, Arkansas and Colorado recently adding mandates. One state went in the opposite direction this week when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp suspended all local government mask orders on July 15.
Individual businesses can choose to institute further restrictions, and the National Retail Federation is encouraging retailers to set nationwide mask policies to protect shoppers and employees.
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Retailers requiring masks isn’t new – especially in areas with local orders – but few businesses have embraced mandates before this month.
Shoppers have been required to wear masks to enter Costco and Apple stores across the nation since early May. Starbucks kicked off the new mask announcements last week and started requiring masks Wednesday, along with Best Buy and Panera Bread locations nationwide.
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A recent Harris Poll survey about businesses mandating masks found 76% of Americans want businesses to “exact and enforce” their own mandatory policies, with 80% saying they are more likely to do business with a company if they require all customers and employees to wear a face mask during the pandemic.
Marc Perrone, president of America’s largest food and retail union, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers, said the companies’ actions are “not nearly enough to turn the tide as COVID-19.”
“Across the country, every governor and mayor must step up and make masks mandatory at all supermarkets and retail stores,” Perrone said in a statement. “Without universal mask mandates that are fully enforced nationwide, hundreds of thousands of Americans will continue to get sick and die. We cannot wait any longer.”
But while more retailers are starting to require masks at stores nationwide, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar reversed course and changed their policies. The retailers now “request” shoppers wear face coverings but still “require face coverings where required by state or local ordinance.”
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This week’s announcement starting rolling out a day after Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said if the American public were to embrace masking now the pandemic could be brought to heel in less than two months.
“If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next 4-6-8 weeks, I really think we can bring this under control,” he said in an interview Tuesday with the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
What states require face masks in public?: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana join growing list of states where it’s mandatory.
These stores, businesses now require masks
Acme: Started Tuesday, July 21.
Albertsons: Started Tuesday, July 21.
Aldi: Started Monday, July 27.
Athleta: Started Saturday, Aug. 1
Banana Republic: Started Saturday, Aug. 1
Bed Bath & Beyond: Started Friday, July 24.
BJ’s Wholesale Club: Started Monday, July 20.
Cub: Started Tuesday, July 28.
CVS: Started Monday, July 20.
Gap: Started Aug. 1
Home Goods: Started Thursday, July 30.
Home Depot: Started Wednesday, July 22.
Kohl’s: Started Monday, July 20.
Jewel Osco: Started Tuesday, July 21.
Kroger: Started Wednesday, July 22. (The grocer operates nearly 2,800 stores with several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others.)
Life Time athletic clubs: Started Monday, July 27.
Lowe’s: Started Monday, July 20.
Macy’s: Started Wednesday, July 22.
Marshalls: Started Thursday, July 30.
McDonald’s: Started Aug. 1.
Natural Grocers: Started Monday, July 20.
Noodles & Company: Started Wednesday, July 22.
Old Navy: Started Aug. 1.
Planet Fitness: Started Aug. 1
Publix: Started Tuesday, July 21.
Sam’s Club: Started Monday, July 20.
Schnuck Markets: Started Monday, July 20.
Southeastern Grocers: Started Monday, July 27.
Staples: Started Monday, July 27.
Target: Started Aug. 1.
T.J. Maxx: Started Thursday, July 30.
Walgreens: Started Monday, July 20.
Walmart: Started Monday, July 20.
Winn-Dixie: Started Monday, July 27.
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This list will be updated as more retailers announce mandates.
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Contributing: Grace Hauck and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY; Nick Robertson, Savannah Morning News
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
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