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AMC said Friday that the chain would require face masks for moviegoers when its theaters reopen — a quick reversal after its original policy of optional use garnered intense backlash.

Driving the news: Regal Cinemas announced on Friday that beginning July 10 it will require all patrons to don face coverings as it reopens its theaters.

Why it matters: In an attempt to create one blanket policy that would appease moviegoers around the country, it exposed itself to criticism for not taking safety precautions seriously enough.

  • CEO Adam Aron told Variety in an interview published Thursday that the company wouldn't require masks because it "did not want to be drawn into a political controversy."
  • But the company wrote in a news release Friday that it will require masks, even in states that don't require it, citing "an intense and immediate outcry from our customers."
  • "The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests," it added.

The big picture: While theater chains, including AMC, have committed to enhanced safety and cleaning precautions, surveys show that consumers don't necessarily feel safe going to the movies quite yet.

Theater chains are under extraordinary financial pressure to reopen around the country, where the coronavirus is spreading at different rates.

  • AMC has been hit particularly hard by the crisis.
  • Earlier this month, it signaled to investors that it may not survive the pandemic, saying in a government filing that "substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time."

Go deeper: Movie theaters face uncertain future as country reopens

Go deeper

McConnell: "We must have no stigma about wearing masks"

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech on Monday that Americans must have "no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people."

Why it matters: Results from months of Axios-Ipsos coronavirus polling revealed a stark partisan divide when it comes to wearing masks. In surveys conducted between May 8 and June 22, 65% of Democrats reported wearing a mask every time they leave home, compared to just 35% of Republicans.

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 10,763,604 — Total deaths: 517,667 — Total recoveries — 5,522,094Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 2,715,124 — Total deaths: 128,439 — Total recoveries: 729,994 — Total tested: 32,827,359Map.
  3. Public health: What we know about the immune response to coronavirus and what it means for a vaccine.
  4. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  5. States: Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases — 5 states saw 27% spike in heart-related deaths in first 3 months of coronavirus pandemic.

The other immune responders to COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Scientists are inching closer to understanding how antibodies and immune cells are unleashed by the body in response to the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Natural immunity differs from that afforded by vaccination but it offers clues for the design of effective vaccines and therapies.