Fla. site of GOP convention orders that masks be worn
Trump has refused to wear protection on recent trips
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Donald Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August, ordered the wearing of face coverings Monday, joining the list of state and local governments reversing course to try to beat back a resurgence of the coronavirus.
Less than a week after Republican Mayor Lenny Curry — an avid Trump supporter — said there would be no mask requirement, city officials announced that coverings must be worn in “situations where individuals cannot socially distance.”
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the president’s advice is to “do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”
Trump has refused to wear a mask on recent trips to states and businesses that require them.
In recent weeks, the Republicans moved some of the convention pageantry to Jacksonville after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina objected to the holding of a large gathering in Charlotte without social-distancing measures.
It’s unclear if Jacksonville’s mask mandate will still be in place during the GOP convention scheduled for Aug. 25-27 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people.
The mask requirement took effect at 5 p.m. EDT Monday with no end date announced. Curry, who did not attend Monday’s news conference because of family obligations, could not be reached for comment.
Recently a group of nearly 500 Florida-based doctors — many from northeast Florida — signed an open letter to Curry calling for the convention to be postponed. The letter, which was delivered to Curry this past weekend, also urged officials to require masks.
The Jacksonville order came the same day that the head of the World Health Organization warned that the pandemic is “not even close to being over” and is accelerating.
is yet to come,” said Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”
Tedros also dismissed complaints from countries complaining that contact tracing is too difficult to implement as a control strategy for the coronavirus pandemic as “lame.”
The U.N. health agency has repeatedly advised countries that shutting down their COVID-19 outbreaks requires having a strong contact tracing program in place, a laborintensive process of tracking down contacts of people with coronavirus to ensure those at risk isolate.
In recent months, countries with large outbreaks of COVID-19, including Britain and the U.S., have said there are simply too many contacts to trace for an effective system to be put into place.
Health authorities have recorded more than 10.2 million confirmed infections and 503,000 deaths globally, including almost 2.6 million cases and about 126,000 lives lost in the United States, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. is seeing a surge in confirmed cases, especially in the South and West, with about 40,000 per day.
Experts say the actual numbers, both in the U.S. and globally, are probably far higher, in part because of testing limitations and the large number of people without symptoms.
States such as Texas, Florida and California are backtracking, closing beaches and bars in some cases and ordering the wearing of masks.
Elsewhere, India set another record with a one-day total of 20,000 newly confirmed infections. Several Indian states reimposed partial or full lockdowns after the total number of cases jumped by nearly 100,000 in one week to 548,000.
In China, nearly 8.3 million out of about 21 million have undergone testing in recent weeks in Beijing after an outbreak centered on a wholesale market. The country reported just 12 new cases Monday, including seven in Beijing.
South Korean authorities reported 47 new cases as they struggled to curb outbreaks that have spread from Seoul to other regions. Officials said they are preparing to impose stronger social-distancing measures — i ncluding banning gatherings of more than 10 people, shutting schools and halting professional sports — if the daily increase in infections doubles more than twice in a week.
The European Union is preparing a list of 15 countries whose citizens will be allowed to visit the bloc beginning Wednesday, Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, told the Cadena SER radio network. Because of the resurgence in the U.S., America may not be on that list.
“This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries. This is an exercise of self-responsibility,” she said.
It’s unclear if the mask mandate for Jacksonville, Florida will be in place when the GOP holds its convention slated for late August at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.