Sep 4, 2020 - Health

"Mask up": Governors urge caution ahead of Labor Day weekend

People sit on a beach under colorful umbrellas and walk on the sand
Beach-goers in San Clemente, California on Sept. 2 ahead of Labor Day weekend. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Democratic and Republican governors on Friday urged residents to adhere to basic coronavirus mitigation strategies, like washing hands and wearing a mask, during the Labor Day weekend.

Why it matters: 18 states saw rising coronavirus caseloads over the last week, including seven where daily infections were up by more than 50%, per a weekly Axios tracker.

  • Millions of Americans, meanwhile, are expected to travel this Labor Day weekend, prompting experts to fear a surge of cases, like what was seen after the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends.
  • “We don’t want to see a repeat of the surges that we have seen following other holiday weekends,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Thursday. “We don’t want to see a surge under any circumstances, but particularly as we go on the other side of Labor Day and enter into the fall.”

What they're saying: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who has been criticized for resisting strict coronavirus measures, urged caution during a statewide tour Friday. “Our state’s health and well-being rest on what Georgians choose to do over this Labor Day weekend," he said.

  • "Let’s keep doing everything we’ve done over the past six months to crush the curves and put us in position to keep moving forward." Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) tweeted.
  • "As we end another tough week of #COVID19 cases, it's vital we remain vigilant this weekend and follow the guidance. Have fun, but stay safe." said Gov. Andy Beshear (D-Ky), whose state is also hosting a fan-less Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
  • "This Labor Day weekend, it’s critical for Marylanders to practice the basic habits that have kept us on the road to recovery: avoid large gatherings, wear a mask, and wash your hands," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) tweeted.
  • "Let’s help our businesses hire workers back by stopping the spread of COVID-19.   Avoid large gatherings like backyard BBQs. Keep all interactions short and safe. Mask Up," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) tweeted.
  • "As we head into Labor Day weekend, it’s important to remember that the virus is still out there and although we can get together and have fun, we just have to be careful and responsible," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said.

The bottom line: Compounded stress and exhaustion from worrying about the pandemic can lead to risky behavior that can increase the spread of the coronavirus, Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly reports.

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