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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)

Confirmed Cases: 292082

Reported Deaths: 8858
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1443155217
DuPage17589561
Lake16953487
Will14045378
Kane13159326
St. Clair6665190
Winnebago6037149
Madison5760137
Champaign473320
McHenry4609118
Peoria351050
McLean329523
Rock Island302676
Kankakee275277
Unassigned2532244
Sangamon243245
Kendall202025
Tazewell178025
LaSalle172557
DeKalb159038
Macon156044
Coles147231
Williamson140645
Jackson126224
Clinton119020
Adams114910
Boone112823
Randolph94111
Effingham8722
Vermilion7914
Whiteside75320
Ogle7286
Monroe68016
Knox6723
Grundy6705
Henry6665
Morgan66223
Bureau65211
Jefferson62038
Marion5661
Christian55411
Macoupin5507
Franklin5413
Stephenson5296
Union51524
McDonough48215
Logan4681
Crawford4584
Woodford4266
Fayette4183
Livingston4036
Cass39811
Jersey39415
Shelby3944
Lee3831
Montgomery37613
Iroquois36719
Perry35315
Saline3464
Warren3332
Bond3305
Douglas3147
Wayne2805
Jo Daviess2662
Lawrence2592
Carroll2355
Greene22911
Cumberland2185
Hancock2183
Moultrie2183
Washington2161
Jasper2139
Richland2136
Pulaski1811
Fulton1780
Clark1742
White1690
Wabash1583
Clay1560
Johnson1560
Mason1531
Mercer1405
Piatt1390
Pike1341
De Witt1252
Menard1251
Edgar1138
Massac1132
Ford1055
Marshall1050
Alexander831
Scott790
Gallatin732
Hamilton712
Henderson690
Edwards640
Brown620
Calhoun600
Putnam570
Stark552
Schuyler500
Hardin400
Pope291
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Confirmed Cases: 118322

Reported Deaths: 3591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21502767
Lake10688323
Elkhart6707111
St. Joseph6619113
Allen6330205
Hamilton4938109
Vanderburgh378131
Hendricks2766124
Monroe265536
Tippecanoe256613
Johnson2352124
Clark225957
Porter219947
Delaware200162
Cass19559
Vigo186827
Madison170375
LaPorte149141
Floyd139664
Warrick138242
Howard132663
Kosciusko125917
Bartholomew118457
Marshall101524
Dubois99919
Boone99146
Grant95134
Hancock94643
Noble93132
Henry81226
Jackson7739
Wayne77014
Morgan73438
Daviess68028
Shelby68029
Dearborn67528
LaGrange64011
Clinton62314
Harrison59224
Putnam58411
Gibson5355
Knox5289
Lawrence51629
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48811
White48714
Decatur45939
Miami4394
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper4012
Scott39011
Steuben3907
Posey3460
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31325
Clay3085
Ripley3078
Orange28824
Whitley2826
Carroll27813
Adams2763
Wabash2728
Starke2717
Washington2701
Wells2674
Spencer2633
Jefferson2503
Huntington2473
Fulton2442
Tipton22822
Randolph2238
Perry22113
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1641
Rush1574
Vermillion1310
Fountain1292
Blackford1213
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1043
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0226