Jul 15, 2020 - Health

A consensus is finally emerging on masks

Masks as american flag

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Four months after the first lockdowns, there's a real possibility of a nationwide consensus on face masks.

Why it matters: As is increasingly the case in our fractured society, states and businesses led the way, finally followed by the federal government.

  • 25 states plus D.C. have mask mandates in public spaces. Alabama is the latest to join those ranks. (Map)
  • Walmart is the latest major retailer to require masks in stores, joining Costco and Starbucks.
  • The federal government has been all over the place, with the CDC recommending against masks early in the pandemic and President Trump refusing to wear a mask in public until last weekend.

The big picture: 62% of respondents in the most recent Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index said they’re wearing a mask “all the time” outside the home, up from 53% two weeks ago.

  • Republicans jumped from 35% to 45%.

Between the lines: Enforcement will mostly fall on entry-level workers to meet the portion of Americans who still see face coverings as a political statement and not a public health preventative practice.

  • Videos across the country have surfaced showing customers berating retail staffers over masks and temperature checks.
  • Walmart will have "Health Ambassadors" stationed near the entrances of stores to remind customers without masks of the new requirements.

The bottom line: As the pandemic becomes more immediately real across the country, resisting one of the easiest interventions against it makes less and less sense.

Go deeper: CDC says U.S. could get coronavirus "under control" in 4–8 weeks if all wear masks

Go deeper