California mandates masks as US COVID-19 cases climb

California has now mandated the use of cloth face coverings for residents in public spaces where physical distancing of more than 6 feet cannot be maintained.

The California Department of Health ordered the new rule after Wednesday brought the largest single-day increase in cases in the state: more than 4,000 new cases of the virus. California's COVID-19 total is 161,099 cases, and 5,290 fatalities.

"We are seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. California's strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Children under 2 years old are exempt from the order, and masks do not have to be worn during outdoor exercise and recreation. Patrons of restaurants can remove masks when eating or drinking.

The new case surge in the state is fueled by younger patients. The Mercury News published a new analysis earlier this week showing that 44% of positive cases are now occurring in Californians under the age of 35, a shift from the initial months of the pandemic in that state.

While some cities and communities in California already have masks requirements, the topic has been controversial. Last week the Orange County health officer resigned after she said she received threats because she had ordered face masks. The San Francisco Chronicle also reported that major counties, including Riverside, San Bernardino, and Fresno, have also reversed mask orders in the last 6 weeks.

Masks not required at Trump rally

In Oklahoma, the state Supreme Court today rejected a legal request to require that those attending President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa wear masks and practice social distancing, per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The ruling came in response to a lawsuit that claimed the rally would put the community at increased risk of coronavirus infection.

Tulsa is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with more than 400 cases reported in the city on Thursday, and many public officials have asked the Trump campaign to move the rally outdoors or reschedule, but the event will be held tomorrow evening at the BOK Center.

In an interview the Wall Street Journal published yesterday, President Trump — who does not appear in public with a mask — said his problems with face masks were that they encouraged people to touch their faces, and were being used as a political tool to signal disapproval of his presidency.

CDC ups death toll prediction

The CDC yesterday update its COVID-19 death forecast, predicting the number will reach 129,000 to 145,000 by Jul 11. The forecast is based on 21 individual models.

"The state-level ensemble forecasts suggest that the number of new deaths over the next four weeks in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, and Utah will likely exceed the number reported over the last four weeks," the CDC said.

Florida sets new record

The Florida Department of Health yesterday reported its single-daily high of new COVID-19 cases, with 3,207. There are now 85,926 Florida cases, with 3,061 deaths related to the novel virus.

According to the tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University, the United States has 2,213,000 cases and 118,894 deaths.

US Latinos are being disproportionately affected by the virus, according to a new story from Politico. Infections among Latinos have spiked in the last 8 weeks, and Latinos ages 25 to 54 have a mortality rate at least five times greater than white Americans.

Experts say Latinos are more likely to be employed in sectors with high infections rates, including food processing plants, hospitality, and construction.

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