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Homeland Security

To Mask or Not to Mask?

By VOA News June 20, 2020

To mask or not to mask? That question is dividing Americans. While some would not even think of going out without a mask, others walk about without one.

Wearing a mask, however, is serious business for nine mayors in Texas who sent letters to Texans imploring them to wear masks, according to a Washington Post report.

"Infections are rising. Hospital capacity is filling up. This isn't meant to scare you, but it is meant to be very honest. The virus doesn't leave just because our collective urgency has gone away," the letter said in part, according to the late Friday report.

Health experts say wearing a mask is one of the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations in Texas have been on the rise since May, the newspaper said.

Other warnings

The warnings from the Texas mayors came as the coronavirus continued to spread throughout other southern U.S. states, prompting officials in those states to issue increasingly dire warnings.

Health officials in South Carolina said Saturday that the state had set another single-day record for new infections, surpassing 1,000 cases for the second straight day.

In Louisiana, two clusters of outbreaks were reported Friday. State officials said they were linked to a large high school graduation party in New Orleans and large gatherings outside the bars in a nightlife district in Baton Rouge.

Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada reported record spikes in confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday as states continue their phased reopenings and increase testing.

Despite the outbreaks in the U.S., states across the country were continuing to reopen this weekend.

As of Saturday, the U.S. continued to lead the world in coronavirus cases, with over 2.2 million, about one-fourth of the more than 8.7 million cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

Some reopening, some retreating

Other countries were also reopening, including Spain, which was set to lift a state of emergency Sunday that was imposed in March.

In Australia, the Victoria premier said Saturday that he would reimpose more stringent restrictions on Monday after the state recorded double-digit increases in COVID-19 cases for a fourth consecutive day.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that the country's efforts to contain the virus had regressed, two weeks after restrictions were lifted to allow businesses to reopen and people to travel.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the pandemic is accelerating. He said that more than 150,000 new cases worldwide were reported Thursday, the largest one-day increase since the outbreak began in December. Significant numbers of the new cases were in South Asia and the Middle East.

Brazil has reported more than 1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

"We are in a new and dangerous phase," Tedros said Friday at a news conference in Geneva, and he warned that lockdown measures were still needed to halt the virus' spread.

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