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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks beginning next week in all of its 5,000 company-owned stores, in addition to its Sam's Club locations, the company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and the latest in a string of national chains — including Costco and Starbucks — to mandate masks for customers.

  • The company notes that 65% of its stores are located in areas where "there is some form of government mandate on face coverings."
  • Walmart says the mandate is meant to "help bring consistency across stores and clubs."

Walmart also said it would have "Health Ambassadors" stationed near the entrances of stores to remind customers without masks of the new requirements.

What they're saying: "We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC," the company wrote in a press release.

  • "We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of our customers and members in wearing face coverings to protect their safety and the safety of our associates."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Walmart has over 5,000 stores in the U.S., not 9,000.

Go deeper

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.

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.

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