LAS VEGAS (AP) – As Nevada prepared to begin reopening parts of its economy last month, a team of medical experts recommended Governor Steve Sisolak to demand that people wear masks in public to prevent the spread of the corona virus to help stop.
The governor promoted masks, but opposed making them mandatory because he feared the rule could backfire for companies trying to enforce the order to customers.
With reported cases of coronavirus rising in the past four weeks, Sisolak finally decided on Wednesday to take their advice and mandate it, saying it was necessary to protect people and keep businesses open.
“People don’t wear these,” he said, holding up and waving a cloth face mask. “It’s disturbing, and it’s really disheartening that this has become a partisan issue about whether or not to wear a mask.”
Sisolak’s slow move in the mask requirement reflects an arduous decision-making process among many governors as they listen to a variety of sometimes competing voices on how to respond to the spreading virus outbreak. The result is sometimes confusing and creates mixed messages for the public.
As reported cases of coronavirus are increasing rapidly in many states, governors are getting a lot of advice on what to do. Unions want to ensure workers are protected at work. Many entrepreneurs say they cannot afford another forced stop. Public health officials are urging them to wear masks across the country. At the same time, governors face backlash against the law over business restrictions and mask regulations.
Dr. Brian Labus, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Public Health and a member of the medical team that advises Sisolak, said he knows the governor should weigh the health advice against political and economic considerations.
“We were told not to think about all those other things. Do not make political decisions. There will be other groups that will do that, ”said Labus.
The Nevada governor has a panel of rural and urban provincial officials and economic advisers who provide input along with his medical advisory team. Unions, politicians and companies also bow to the ear with unsolicited feedback.
Competitive voices on how to reopen their state’s economy and what restrictions to impose have led to similar push-and-pulls for governors across the U.S. Decision-making has taken on new urgency as reported cases of the virus continue to increase and governors consider whether to pause or go back on their easing of restrictions. The number of confirmed new cases of coronavirus per day in the US reached a record high of 40,000 on Friday.
Some states, including Texas and Florida, have started to reverse previous steps designed to reopen their economies.
In Utah, coronavirus cases have risen sharply since most companies were allowed to reopen in May. Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, has stopped lifting even more restrictions and strongly encouraged people to wear masks.
He faces a lot of opposition when he tries to make it a mandate. An advocacy group founded by a conservative activist to curb the limitations of the coronavirus, Utah Businesses Revival, has actively campaigned against masks or new restrictions on economic activity. She and others have protested, including an anti-mask demonstration at the Utah Capitol.
North Carolina governor Democrat Roy Cooper announced a state-wide mask rule earlier this week and a three-week hiatus on further reopenings, movements supported by a nursing association. But Cooper has faced repression from Republican lawmakers and small businesses that are still closed, including bars, gyms, and bowling alleys, which have attempted to overturn the governor’s orders through legal action or legislation.
The top infectious disease expert in South Carolina said this week that a statewide requirement that people wear masks indoors would be a big help in what she said was a “critical point” in the fight against COVID- 19.
That advice from state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell contradicts the public view of Republican Governor Henry McMaster, who continued to say this week that a mask requirement would violate personal freedoms and be too difficult to enforce. McMaster has largely chosen corporate interests throughout the pandemic.
“If we could go to the epidemiological limit, we would shut everything down and let everyone in and let everyone wear a mask. But the country would fall apart, “McMaster said at his first press conference with health officials in more than two weeks on Friday.
Considering West Virginia has seen a spike in reported virus cases, Governor Jim Justice fired his public health commissioner on Wednesday. While the departure was beyond a data dispute, the movement uncovered a philosophical gap between Dr.’s plea. Cathy Slemp to “stay true to science” when new outbreaks break out and the Republican governor’s aggressive scheme to reopen companies to get the state economy moving again.
National Nurses United, an umbrella organization for nurses across the country, called on governors in rising cases to impose strict limits on companies until better protection, including more protective equipment for health professionals and more robust testing and contact tracking.
Stephanie Roberson, the director of government relations for the California Nurses Association, a subsidiary of the national group, said Governor Gavin Newsom’s office had heard her group’s concerns, but did not seem to be listening.
“We need to look at science, and science tells us that we have a significant resurgence and that we should withdraw,” said Roberson.
Newsom and state health officials have said that the goal of home mediation imposed in mid-March was to prepare state hospitals for a wave. Earlier this week, he praised the importance of opening businesses to ensure the health of California’s economy, warning that if health conditions get worse, the state may be forced to close them again.
“We don’t intend to, we don’t want to,” he said.
But on Friday, Newsom was forced to act. He urged Imperial County in Southern California to reset home warrants amid a wave of business.
Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia; Gary D. Robertson of Raleigh, North Carolina; Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, California; and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
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