Fla. site of GOP con­ven­tion or­ders that masks be worn

Trump has re­fused to wear pro­tec­tion on re­cent trips

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Tamara Lush and Emily Schmall

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.

“The worst

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.

IVY CEBALLO/TAMPA BAY TIMES

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.

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