As Covid-19 cases rise in 17 states, Americans still divided on whether masks should be mandated

CNN's John King looks at the trends in US Covid-19 cases and sees encouraging signs for some states.

Posted: May 26, 2020 10:51 AM
Updated: May 26, 2020 10:30 PM


As more places across the US offer people a chance to shop or dine inside, the issue of whether to wear a mask has again become a flashpoint.

There are 17 states where the number of coronavirus cases are trending up, and many governors have told citizens that now is an important time to wear a face covering.

Virginia on Tuesday became the latest state to compel people to wear masks in certain situations. The rule applies to anyone 10 years of age or older within a public indoor space, Gov. Ralph Northam said. Masks will be required on public transportation, the governor said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public when it is hard to stay socially distant.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, recently said masks definitely prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

'What we have said to people is there is clear scientific evidence now, by all the droplet experiments that happened, and that others have done, to show that a mask does prevent droplets from reaching others,' Birx said on 'Fox News Sunday.'

'We need to be wearing masks in public when we cannot social distance.'

But some Americans have resisted wearing a face covering, arguing that adhering to mask wearing rules feels like a forfeiture of their freedoms.

The city of Stillwater, Oklahoma, revoked an order requiring residents to wear face coverings inside buildings after workers received threats.

In Miami Beach, a man shouted 'this is a false flag, a fake pandemic' in a grocery store during a profanity-laced tirade in early May as a code compliance officer told him he needed a mask to enter. A Family Dollar security guard in Michigan was shot dead after he told a woman to wear a face mask, officials said earlier this month.

President Donald Trump doesn't wear mask in front of the cameras. Critics say he sets a bad example.

Joe Biden on Monday, in his first public appearance in months, wore one while at a Memorial Day event. And a photo of it ended up on the President's Twitter feed.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnaney was asked about a retweet the President posted that included a photo of Biden wearing a mask and sunglasses with the caption: 'This might help explain why Trump doesn't like to wear a mask in public.'

When asked why Trump was apparently criticizing the Democratic presidential candidate, McEnaney quipped: 'Look the president's excited to see that Joe emerged from the basement. It is a bit peculiar though that in his basement, right next to his wife, he's not wearing a mask. But he's wearing one outdoors when he's socially distant. So, I think that there was a discrepancy there.'

The President told reporters he wasn't criticizing Biden.

In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash in Delaware -- Biden's first in-person interview since being knocked off the campaign trail by the coronavirus pandemic -- the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said Trump is fueling a cultural opposition to wearing masks when 'every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you're in a crowd.'

By Tuesday evening, more than 1,680,000 Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, and more than 98,800 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Track the virus in your state and nationwide

So 50% of antibody tests might be wrong, CDC says

Bosses should not use antibody tests to determine whether employees should come back to work, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in new guidance.

The serologic tests, which are used to determine whether people have been infected in the past with Covid-19, might be wrong up to half the time.

'In a population where the prevalence is 5%, a test with 90% sensitivity and 95% specificity will yield a positive predictive value of 49%. In other words, less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies,' the CDC says.

They are not accurate enough to use to make important policy choices, the CDC says.

'Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace,' it says. It should not also factor into decisions at correctional facilities, K-12 schools and college residence halls, the CDC says.

It is best to use tests with high specificity, the CDC adds.

'The disease can jump out at any time'

What used to be typical summer pastimes are now potential breeding grounds for coronavirus.

A cluster of new cases emerged after a swim party in Arkansas. In Atlanta, several recent prep school graduates also tested positive for the coronavirus, including one who had friends over for a graduation party.

In Arkansas, one of the few states that never enacted a stay-at-home order, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state seemed to be experiencing a 'second peak.'

Despite the warning, crowds gathered over the weekend in Lake Hamilton, where Karen Lee said many people decided to forgo masks.

'We're all just embracing it,' Lee told CNN affiliate KARK. 'I could get killed by Covid today or I could get hit by a bus or a car tomorrow. I am practicing proper hand washing and hygiene.'

While coronavirus generally doesn't spread outdoors as easily as it does indoors, there's still a risk with any cramped crowd -- especially because the virus can spread by just talking.

And officials from the World Health Organization say those who ignore measures such as social distancing are at risk of seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus.

'We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now that it's going to keep going down,' said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme.

'We need to be also cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time.'

A hallmark of coronaviruses 'is its ability to amplify in certain settings, its ability to cause transmission or super spreading events,' said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for Covid-19 response.

'And we are seeing in a number of situations in these closed settings (that) when the virus has an opportunity, it can transmit readily,' she said.

And while the coronavirus might transmit less efficiently in high temperatures and high humidity, that doesn't mean it will go away this summer.

'You can catch COVID-19 no matter how sunny or hot the weather is,' the WHO said. 'Countries with hot weather have reported cases of Covid-19.'

Where states stand on the reopening process

Authorities are cracking down on rules

To avoid resurgences, state and local officials are trying to enforce restrictions in place across much of the country.

Health officials in St. Louis County, Missouri, issued a travel advisory after videos surfaced from Lake of the Ozarks, where hundreds crowded a pool party.

'This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19,' County Executive Dr. Sam Page said.

Those who were in the area should self-quarantine for two weeks if they didn't practice social distancing, county officials said.

In Houston, authorities will enforce capacity limits after the city received hundreds of complaints over the weekend of bars and restaurants that were violating those limits.

In Rhode Island, police officers and park rangers were stationed at East Matunuck and Scarborough state beaches to ensure residents were wearing masks and following social distancing restrictions.

'It's definitely not the same beach experience,' Department of Environmental Management spokesperson Michael Healey told CNN affiliate WPRI.

There will no longer be lifeguards on duty, parking will be limited, and access to bathrooms, changing rooms and concessions is no longer allowed, WPRI reported.

Your top coronavirus questions, answered

2 months after its containment zone, New Rochelle reopens

New Rochelle -- once the epicenter of New York's coronavirus outbreak -- was starting to reopen Tuesday, Mayor Noam Bramson said.

The suburb north of New York City garnered national headlines after dozens of infections were traced back to one resident, an attorney who worked in Manhattan.

In March, officials announced a 1-mile 'containment zone' to help prevent the virus from spreading.

'The resumption of construction and retail pickup in Phase I will be a welcome boost to our local economy, and New Rochelle is already making plans to accelerate our recovery through both business and individual assistance,' Bramson said in a written statement.

'But it is premature to let down our guard. All of us must continue to act responsibly, practice physical distancing, use face coverings, and follow other guidelines intended to safeguard our health at both home and work.'

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1177241

Reported Deaths: 22528
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4709339291
DuPage761561188
Will64432882
Lake58864915
Kane50242708
Winnebago28194431
Madison27715451
St. Clair25173463
McHenry24076261
Champaign17908123
Peoria16772260
Sangamon16028216
McLean14485156
Tazewell13397239
Rock Island12991285
Kankakee12383188
Kendall1093783
LaSalle10681216
Macon9386185
Vermilion8487114
DeKalb8165111
Adams7970113
Williamson6763119
Boone590471
Whiteside5881146
Clinton555189
Coles515990
Grundy506762
Knox5010131
Ogle497373
Jackson458560
Effingham448169
Macoupin432178
Henry430456
Marion4253111
Livingston414475
Franklin412665
Stephenson406273
Monroe403280
Jefferson3953115
Randolph395177
Woodford363360
Morgan356776
Montgomery346067
Lee332443
Logan329952
Christian328565
Bureau327373
Fayette306152
Perry302357
Fulton283044
Iroquois276560
Jersey247945
Douglas241032
McDonough230440
Lawrence228524
Saline227046
Union218134
Shelby211834
Crawford200021
Bond189124
Cass187522
Pike168249
Clark167329
Hancock166529
Warren166243
Wayne166248
Richland163238
Jo Daviess159822
White159525
Washington157223
Carroll156434
Ford156344
Edgar153737
Moultrie148622
Clay142241
Greene137631
Johnson133911
Piatt130714
Wabash129612
Mercer127532
De Witt127322
Mason127141
Massac124932
Cumberland118318
Jasper110217
Menard10318
Marshall83114
Hamilton78315
Schuyler6745
Pulaski6675
Brown6586
Stark53522
Edwards52210
Henderson4958
Calhoun4752
Scott4481
Alexander4428
Gallatin4354
Putnam4093
Hardin34412
Pope2803
Out of IL00
Unassigned02198

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 657037

Reported Deaths: 12450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion901321624
Lake48105871
Allen35552632
Hamilton31839393
St. Joseph29538510
Elkhart25261412
Vanderburgh21115377
Tippecanoe19765197
Johnson16242352
Porter15838267
Hendricks15723296
Clark11843179
Madison11672314
Vigo11503228
Monroe10248158
Delaware9788178
LaPorte9720194
Howard9017194
Kosciusko8514107
Bartholomew7373147
Warrick7369146
Hancock7362128
Floyd7139164
Wayne6586188
Grant6395157
Morgan6040124
Boone603388
Dubois5868111
Dearborn540266
Henry539492
Marshall5390104
Cass537199
Noble506775
Jackson462063
Shelby458490
Lawrence4154111
Gibson399681
Harrison395160
Clinton392353
DeKalb382078
Montgomery381583
Knox354484
Miami354063
Whitley346235
Huntington338176
Steuben335955
Wabash328775
Putnam325959
Ripley325161
Adams320249
Jasper312943
White295351
Jefferson292770
Daviess284296
Fayette270255
Decatur269388
Greene259978
Posey259731
Wells255374
Scott248446
LaGrange240170
Clay238944
Randolph225076
Spencer215830
Jennings213544
Washington207727
Sullivan202038
Fountain200341
Starke185950
Owen181652
Jay177328
Fulton176437
Carroll175618
Perry172435
Orange170450
Rush163922
Franklin158335
Vermillion158040
Tipton145441
Parke137915
Pike127232
Blackford120027
Pulaski105643
Newton96431
Brown94639
Benton91113
Crawford90113
Martin80114
Switzerland7507
Warren74612
Union66810
Ohio52711
Unassigned0425