Walmart decided today that the company will require face masks to be worn in all of its stores and Sam's Club stores in the United States beginning Monday, July 20.

There are currently no federal mandates in place for facial coverings, though plenty of local initiatives exist in cities and counties nationwide. Tuscaloosa City currently has a mask mandate in place. To see what that looks like, click here. Despite the lack of federal mandates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges Americans to "wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public," according to CNN.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a press release on July 14. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Walmart is not the first retail giant to enforce a mask policy in its stores. Other stores with similar mandates include the Apple Store, Dollar Tree, Starbucks and Costco.

The debate over where masks are required and lack of pushing from state leaders has left retailers to decide whether they will risk losing business to keep their employees and patrons safe, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has had enough of the ambiguity. RILA President Brian Dodge spoke out about the struggles retail employees face when they are forced to provide service with a smile while handling maskless, irritated – and sometimes aggressive – customers.

“Retailers are alarmed with the instances of hostility and violence front-line employees are experiencing by a vocal minority of customers,” Dodge said in an interview with ABC News. 

In solidarity with RILA, the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union (UFCW) has issued similar communications regarding masks in eateries nationwide. Read one of RILA's mask-related communications here and one of UFCW's writings here.

According to the CDC, as of this post's publishing, there are 3,355,457 total cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 135,235 people have died from complications with the disease. In Tuscaloosa, Google News reports that there are 2,799 cases of COVID-19 in Tuscaloosa county and 56 people have died.


 

Making your own DIY cloth face mask can be simple and affordable. Click here to see a tutorial from Meg Summers. 

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