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November 28, 2020
Health News

The Final Pandemic Surge Is Crashing Over America

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection

Finally, the country’s public-health response remains scattered and patchwork. But some Republican leaders have urged mask use in recent days.

Facing rising cases and hospitalizations, many states and metropolitan areas recently mandated new or more stringent measures in an effort to contain the virus. California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was pulling an “emergency brake” for the state, eliminating indoor dining, closing indoor gyms, and banning indoor worship services in 41 counties, among other efforts. Iowa, a state whose governor had long resisted a mask mandate, announced it would require residents to wear masks. Minnesota’s governor banned indoor dining and in-person get-togethers until mid-December. New York City this week said it would shut down schools as cases have risen. Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, who was one of seven Democratic and Republican governors to co-author an opinion piece in The Washington Post this week urging Americans to cancel Thanksgiving, advised residents to wear masks and instituted a curfew. Costco, one of the nation’s largest retailers, said customers would be required to wear a mask while inside its stores, regardless of local and state regulations.

This week, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice tightened the state’s mask mandate and held an 80-minute press conference in which he implored West Virginians to get on board. “I love all of our kids, and I want them to be able to play ball and go to school, but more than anything I want us to get more control over this terrible virus that’s just eating us alive,” said Justice, a Republican. “I want us to absolutely wear a mask. I will not allow people to just decide they’re not going to wear a mask. I mean, what right do they have to infect others or possibly infect others? … Ninety-six percent of the people in West Virginia believe we ought to be wearing masks. I strongly urge—strongly urge—us all to wear a mask. That’s all we’ve got to go on right now.”

Artis Curiskis, Alice Goldfarb, Erin Kissane, Jessica Malaty Rivera, Kara Oehler, Joanna Pearlstein, and Peter Walker contributed to this analysis.

*This article originally reported that in West Virginia, cases related to long-term care facilities more than doubled over the past two weeks, with deaths increasing at nearly the same rate. In fact, COVID Tracking Project researchers misinterpreted the state’s newly reformatted long-term care data. In the past two weeks, within long-term care facilities in the state, resident cases actually increased by 9 percent, staff cases increased by 18 percent, and deaths increased 16 percent.

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