Fashion and footwear industry leaders are calling on the government to adopt “consistent” guidelines for the use of face masks amid a new surge in coronavirus infections.
In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump, the American Apparel and Footwear Association — which represents more than 1,000 companies across the United States — urged the administration to institute federal protocols for face masks to assist retailers’ efforts to safely reopen stores to the public.
“As we enter the next stage of our COVID-19 response and recovery, we are confronted with a stark choice,” president and CEO Steve Lamar wrote. “If we do not require widespread use of face masks in enclosed public spaces, we will likely endure additional widespread business shutdowns.”
Versions of the letter were also sent to the heads of the National Governors Association, National Association of Counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The AAFA also requested that the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency consider updating its Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce advisory to include facilities that are practicing safe reopening protocols, such as the practice of proper social distancing and implementation of enhanced cleaning to protect workers and customers.
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“The recent spike in cases and many projections of a second wave in the fall suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will be part of normal life for some time,” Lamar penned. “Recognizing this fact, and absent this clarification, local governments might misinterpret the CISA guidelines to reimpose widespread closures of businesses that are not only modeling proper social distancing behavior, but which are also supporting the ability of consumers to acquire vital supplies.”
The letters were sent a day after the U.S. hit another record for new COVID-19 infections — its sixth in just 10 days. Officials reported more than 59,880 cases on Thursday, driven largely by several states that were among the first to loosen lockdown restrictions. As of today, more than 3.14 million people in the country have fallen ill, and at least 133,500 have died.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It has recommended the use of face masks in public settings and around people who don’t live in one’s household, particularly when other social-distancing measures are tough to maintain.