But the sheriff of Marion County, Fla., which includes Ocala, has come down hard on the opposite side. Sheriff Billy Woods has ordered his deputies not to wear masks on duty, except in limited situations, and has forbidden visitors to sheriff’s offices to wear them.
Sheriff Woods said the purpose of his order, which was first reported by The Ocala Star-Banner, was to improve communication, because officers’ voices can be muffled behind a mask. He made exceptions for officers at the county courthouse, in jails and in public schools — but he made clear that he wasn’t convinced they were necessary.
“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not,” the sheriff said about mask-wearing in an email announcing the policy. “The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t.”
The sight of thousands of unmasked faces at a motorcycle rally last week in Sturgis, S.D., prompted Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire to change his mind, and issue an order requiring masks at gatherings of more than 100 people in his state. The order would apply to the Laconia Motorcycle Rally in Laconia, N.H., now scheduled for Aug. 22 after being postponed by the pandemic.
Governor Sununu, a Republican, had resisted issuing a statewide order. But “Sturgis was a clear warning sign to us,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone saw the photos out of Sturgis and thought, ‘That looks safe.’”
In other U.S. news:
More than 1,460 deaths were announced across the United States on Wednesday, the highest total yet for a single day in August. With the exception of three days this summer when states reported large numbers of backlogged deaths, Wednesday’s death total was the country’s highest since late May.
Kentucky reported more than 1,000 new cases on Wednesday, a single-day record for the state, and Illinois became the sixth state to reach 200,000 cases.
The U.S. budget deficit grew to a record $2.8 trillion for the fiscal year to date as the federal government continued to pump money into the economy, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday. The monthly shortfall of $63 billion for July was an improvement from the prior month, however, as tax payments that were delayed from April came in and as government loans that were being supported through the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program slowed.
Tribune Publishing said on Wednesday that The Daily News, once the largest-circulation newspaper in the country, was permanently closing its Manhattan newsroom. The company said it made the decision “in light of the health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic.” While the paper will still be published, the company made no promises about a future physical location.
Data from states and cities show that many community outbreaks this summer have centered on restaurants and bars, often the largest settings to infect Americans. Since late June, scores of popular restaurants nationwide, including in Nashville, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Milwaukee, had to close temporarily because of cases among employees. Texas and Florida also had to close bars this summer after a surge of new cases hobbled those states. In a recent week in San Diego, 15 of the 39 new cases in community settings stemmed from restaurants
New Jersey’s governor, who was asked on Wednesday about why concerns about the spread of the virus at indoor restaurants didn’t seem apply to schools, said there’s a large difference between the two spaces. Indoor dining remains closed in the state. “Putting aside that going to a restaurant is a volitional step, getting our kids educated is our responsibility,” he said. “You do not have your mask on by definition if you’re eating or drinking.”
In California, the governor said that while the state had recorded an unusually high number of cases over the past day, more than half were from a backlog stemming from a data reporting problem that has clouded California’s ability to gauge its progress in controlling the spread of Covid-19 over the past couple of weeks. He said the two-week average of hospitalizations in the state was down around 19 percent, “yet another indication that we are turning the corner on this pandemic.”
Fauci: ‘I seriously doubt’ Russia has proved its new vaccine is safe and effective.
In a panel discussion, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infections disease expert, criticized Russia’s rushed clearance of a coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine, called Sputnik V, was approved without evidence that Phase 3 clinical trials had been completed, an essential part of the development pipeline to prove a product is safe and effective in people.
“Having a vaccine, Deborah, and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things,” Dr. Fauci said to Deborah Roberts, an ABC News journalist who moderated the panel on Tuesday that is set to air in full on Thursday.