Jul 2, 2020 - Health

Top business leaders urge White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines

A man holding a plastic bag walks past a restaurant door
A man walks past a Ramen restaurant in Los Angeles, California on July 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: The letter specifies that state and local officials should ultimately be responsible for implementing face covering requirements, but argues that "a national mask standard, implemented locally, offers the surest way to protect public health and promote economic recovery."

  • "Current local and state mandatory mask requirements vary widely in scope, application, and enforcement," the letter says.
  • "For example, there is variation on whether the mandate applies to all businesses, to just employees or also customers, and exemptions for age or other health conditions (e.g. asthma)."
  • The business leaders argue that leaving the onus on businesses to enforce state-mandated face-covering requirements causes confusion, lowers consumer confidence, and sparks confrontations or litigation between customers and employees.

The bottom line: Scientific evidence shows face masks can help to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, but the nuances and changes in messaging about their use are complicating public health efforts, Axios' Alison Snyder and Eileen Drage O'Reilly report.

Go deeper: Where the science stands on using face masks against coronavirus

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