Face masks work to curb COVID-19. Texas, Florida, and Arizona will ask, not require, you to wear one.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
(Image credit: Andrew Caballero-ReynoldS/AFP/Getty Images)

The governors of COVID-19 hot spots Texas, Arizona, and Florida won't make you wear a face mask to control the coronavirus, but that doesn't mean they think it's a bad idea. All three states keep hitting new highs in infection and positive test rates, and last week Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) allowed local governments to mandate face masks; Austin, San Antonio, Arizona's Maricopa County (Phoenix), and Tempe have now joined the Florida Keys, Miami Beach, Tampa, and Orange and Miami-Dade counties as mandatory mask areas.

"To state the obvious, COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas, and it must be corralled," Abbott said Monday. "I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient or is like an infringement of freedom, but I also know that wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open."

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) defended not making mask-wearing mandatory over the weekend, saying "we've just got to trust people that you'll give them an opportunity to do the good things to make good decisions." Florida's surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, quietly issued a public health advisory Monday urging that "all individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible."

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"While politicians spar over the topic, a growing number of scientific studies support the idea that masks are a critical tool in curbing the spread of the coronavirus," NPR News reports. "There's some evidence of protection for the wearer, but the stronger evidence is that masks protect others from catching an infection from the person wearing the mask. And infected people can spread the virus just by talking."

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NPR offered some mask advice.

The office of New Mexico's governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) — who requires masks statewide — also had some advice. "For the first time in over two months, today we report no additional COVID-19 deaths in New Mexico," her press secretary tweeted Monday. "It's not over! But keep it up. And please, please do not travel to Arizona or Texas."

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