mask up
March 4, 2021

While Texas and Mississippi are lifting their mask mandates, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced on Thursday she is extending her state's mask order for another month.

On Wednesday, President Biden slammed Ivey's fellow Republican governors, Texas' Greg Abbott and Mississippi's Tate Reeves, for ending mask requirements and fully reopening businesses, saying they were showing "Neanderthal thinking." He called on leaders to listen to public health experts, and Ivey said that's what she's doing, extending the mask order that was set to expire on Friday.

"We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions," Ivey said. "Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we're getting closer."

The mask order will now expire on April 9, and Ivey said after that, people will have to be responsible for wearing them without a mandate. Face coverings, Ivey said, are "one of our greatest tools" in preventing the spread of coronavirus, and when the order is lifted she will "continue to wear my mask when I'm around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same."

Public health experts have warned of the dangers associated with reopening states too soon, before more people are vaccinated and as highly-transmissible variants spread, saying it could erase gains made against the virus. Alabama is home to 4.9 million people, with just 13 percent of the population having received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Don Williamson, head of the Alabama Hospital Association, told The Associated Press that if 1.75 million doses are delivered by early April, that would be "a terrific place to be." Catherine Garcia

October 15, 2020

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was hospitalized with the coronavirus earlier this month, and on Thursday, he encouraged Americans to take the virus "very seriously. The ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly."

Christie was one of several people who attended a Rose Garden ceremony in late September honoring President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who later tested positive for coronavirus — the list includes Trump, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Christie also visited the White House to help Trump prepare for his debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and he told The New York Times he mistakenly believed he was entering "a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day. I was wrong. I was wrong not to wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the president and the rest of the team."

After testing positive, Christie's doctor urged him to check into the hospital, and he spent several days in the intensive care unit before being released on Oct. 10. Christie said he was treated with blood thinners, the Ebola drug remdesivir, and an experimental antibody cocktail. While he is tired, Christie said he's not nearly as fatigued as when he was first sick.

Christie told the Times the White House said that everyone sitting around him at the Rose Garden event had been tested, and he "shouldn't have relied on that." He is encouraging people to wear masks and practice social distancing, but also thinks Americans need to find a middle ground, telling the Times responses to the virus follow "two dominant political and media extremes: those who believe there is nothing to this virus and those alarmists who would continue to close down our country and not trust the common sense of the Americana people. Both are wrong." Catherine Garcia

September 9, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci wants Americans to get even more comfortable with masks.

The country's top coronavirus expert talked to CBS News' Gayle King on Wednesday, and she asked Fauci if it's "frustrating" to see Trump "hold these massive rallies where people are not wearing masks, including the president himself." "Yes, it is," Fauci answered. "We want to set an example" because public health measures — wearing masks, holding events outdoors, physical distance, avoiding crowds — "turn around surges and prevent us from getting surges" in COVID-19 cases, Fauci continued. "I certainly would like to see a universal wearing of masks," he added.

Fauci's comments came after Trump's Tuesday rally in North Carolina, where a lot of attendees were pictured without masks on. Kathryn Krawczyk

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

July 1, 2020

"In Republican circles — with the notable exception of the man who leads the party — the debate about masks is over: It's time to put one on," The Associated Press reports. GOP House and Senate leaders, governors, and rank-and-file lawmakers have joined Democrats and public health officials in urging Americans to mask up when they go out in public, as COVID-19 ravages the South and Southwest.

At Fox News, hosts Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity have publicly pleaded with President Trump to at least occasionally wear a mask. You might have seen videos of other refuseniks. Research shows masks are effective at containing the coronavirus, so what's the best way to get holdouts to put on their masks?

1. Persuasion: Seeing other people wear masks, including Trump but more importantly members of your social network, is probably the best way to convince mask skeptics, Ray Niaura, a social and behavioral scientist at NYU, tells Politico. "Eventually people are going to say, 'Well all my friends and acquaintances are doing it and they don't seem to be too bent out of shape, so maybe I'll try it', as opposed to 'The government's coming to take my guns and they're forcing me to wear a mask.'"

2. Mandate: Persuasion didn't work with seat belts, despite a big, expensive federal ad campaign in the 1980s, University of Oregon psychology professor Paul Slovic tells Politico. But once wearing seat belts was mandated by law, compliance went from 10 percent "up to that 70, 75 percent," he said. "It wouldn't have gotten there voluntarily, so I think the message for mask wearing is to mandate it and to enforce it." Goldman Sachs forecast Monday that a national mask mandate would boost compliance by 15 percentage points and "potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5 percent from GDP."

3. Public pressure: "Social pressure or social disapproval is far more effective in getting people to wear masks," countered Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia, pointing to the Anti-Mask League that formed in San Francisco during the 1918 flu epidemic.

Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown, said attempts to encourage mask wearing "might be too late" at this point. "The public has received such mixed messages from the administration," he told AP. "I fear we may be stuck with coronavirus until it burns through the American population and leaves hundreds of thousands dead." Peter Weber

June 29, 2020

Jacksonville, Florida, is adopting a mandatory mask policy for public gatherings in indoor locations, as well as any other scenario where social distancing isn't feasible. The mandate goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday. The news probably won't thrill President Trump, since Jacksonville is the new home to the Republican National Convention.

The convention was initially slated to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, but Trump clashed with the state's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over social distancing guidelines, prompting other cities to seek the spotlight (formal portions of the convention will still take place in Charlotte because of contractual obligations). Trump told Cooper he didn't "want to be sitting in a place that's 50 percent empty," and that attendees should wear masks only if they choose to.

Eventually, Jacksonville won the derby to host Trump's nomination acceptance. Now that Florida is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, though, the situation has changed, at least when it comes to the optional mask wearing Trump had hoped for — otherwise, Trump and the RNC are reportedly still committed to holding the event in Jacksonville. Of course, the convention is scheduled to take place between Aug. 24 and 27, so the mask requirement could be lifted by then. Tim O'Donnell

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