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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

Trump claims COVID "will go away," Biden calls his response disqualifying

President Trump repeated baseless claims at the final presidential debate that the coronavirus "will go away" and that the U.S. is "rounding the turn," while Joe Biden argued that any president that has allowed 220,000 Americans to die on his watch should not be re-elected.

Why it matters: The U.S. is now averaging about 59,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and added another 73,000 cases on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The country recorded 1,038 deaths due to the virus Thursday, the highest since late September.

How the coronavirus pandemic could end

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's still the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but history, biology and the knowledge gained from our first nine months with COVID-19 point to how the pandemic might end.

The big picture: Pandemics don't last forever. But when they end, it usually isn't because a virus disappears or is eliminated. Instead, they can settle into a population, becoming a constant background presence that occasionally flares up in local outbreaks.

Updated Oct 22, 2020 - World

France becomes 2nd Western European country to top 1M coronavirus cases

French President Emmanuel Macron at the Seine Saint Denis prefecture headquarters in Paris, on Tuesday. Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

France has become the second country in Western Europe to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, Johns Hopkins University data shows

The big picture: France had reported 1,000,369 cases and 34,075 deaths from the coronavirus by Thursday morning, per JHU. French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of health emergency and imposed a curfew on virus hot spots earlier this month. Spain on Wednesday became the first Western European nation to top 1 million cases.