As retail chain mandates loom, mask-wearing is the new normal for NH shoppers

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Sara Isenor, of Hartland, left, and Marileigh Young, right, of Enfield, put on masks on their way to shop at Pet Smart in West Lebanon, N.H., Saturday, July 18, 2020. The store currently only recommends face coverings, though some major retailers have begun to require them to be worn. “They should be worn for sure,” said Young. “It shows that you care about others,” said Isenor. Photo/James M. Patterson, Valley News

Story Produced by the Valley News, a member of the


MANCHESTER, NH  — Shoppers finally appear to be heeding the advice not to leave home without it.

“It” in this case is a face mask, and more shoppers in Manchester and around the state appear to be voluntarily covering up, despite no statewide mandate to do so.

The shift in public acceptance over shopping while masked in this time of COVID-19 could be due in part to recent corporate decision-making  – last week Walmart was the first of several national chains to announce that masks would be required for shoppers. That was quickly followed by a growing number of major retailers, such as CVS, Target, Kohl’s and Starbucks, as well as local grocery stores.

Starting July 20 Market Basket will require masks. Any shopper who comes without a mask can purchase a single mask for 69 cents, or a box of 50 for $24.99, according to a manager at the Elm Street Market Basket. The Hannaford on Hanover Street store will also require shoppers to wear masks starting Monday. Employees will be handing out masks at the door, according to the store manager on duty Sunday, noting that the store policy may differ at other Hannaford locations. A call to the Goffstown Hannaford on Mast Road proved that out; while not mandatory at this time, employees there will also be handing out masks, but at this time, choosing to wear them is up to the customer.

Shaw’s in Hooksett is following guidance from the supermarket chain’s corporate office, which on Sunday provided the following guidance, which includes mandatory masks starting July 21:

Throughout this pandemic, the health and safety of everyone who walks through our doors has been our top priority. We require our associates to wear masks, and across a majority of our stores we already require customers to wear face coverings to comply with local ordinances. Effective July 21, 2020, we will require customers across all of our locations to wear face coverings when shopping with us, for their protection and for that of our associates. We appreciate everyone’s diligence, cooperation, and support as we all work together to get through these difficult times as safely as possible.

In NH’s Upper Valley, up and down the shopping plazas along Route 12A the vast majority of shoppers on Friday afternoon were voluntarily covering up on their way into the big box stores and other retail outlets.

The growing list of retailers requiring face coverings is part of a national effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, which is surging again this summer after many spring lockdowns were lifted in states around the map, creating new hot spots and leading to all-time highs in infections.

On Monday, Walmart, Kohl’s, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Walgreens and CVS — all of which have stores along Route 12A — will require customers to wear face masks in stores. They follow Best Buy, Panera Bread, Dollar Tree, Starbucks and Verizon, which all required face masks last week.
Home Depot will require masks for customers beginning Wednesday. And as of Friday, 36 states have issued statewide mask mandates in public, according to CNN, although neither New Hampshire nor Vermont had yet issued similar directives.

A random sampling of customers shopping on Route 12A on Friday afternoon found most willing to comply with stores’ policies, saying face masks were a minor annoyance but one easily outweighed by the need to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” Heather Rivers, of Bethel, said while she was loading her vehicle with purchases from Walmart. “I work in health care and I wear one all the time,” said the mother of four whose kids — age 8, a pair of 12-year-old twins and age 15 — all wore masks while in the store.

Rivers, a licensed nursing assistant at Valley Terrace, said she views the face mask as a “courteous and responsible” measure to protect people around her and said she does not understand those who, for whatever reason, protest wearing one.

“It’s not a big deal,” Rivers said. “Just do it.”

Others said they are not thrilled with having to wear a mask to shop inside a store, but they are resigned to it.

“When it’s required I’ll wear one. When it’s suggested, I won’t,” said Richard Wood, who came to Walmart to pick up a prescription. “I carry one,” he said, tapping his front pants pocket.

Wood, of Chelsea, said he didn’t think wearing a face mask was necessary and is “not worried” about contracting the virus. “I think it’s a lot of hype,” he said about fears of becoming infected.

“If we’ve got to wear them, we’ve got to wear them,” said Jim Kinnarney, who had come with his wife, Gloria, from South Royalton to Walmart on a Friday afternoon expedition. “They are even required at Welch’s,” he said, referring to Welch’s True Value Hardware in South Royalton.
Gretchen Moulton, a North Haverhill fitness trainer who was on her way into Kohl’s, said she “supports wearing a face mask. I don’t like it but it’s the smart thing to do … we’re not entitled to always do as we please” if it risks hurting another.

Newlyweds Richard and Bethany Cox, on a trip to buy sheets for their kids’ beds at Kohl’s, said they just returned from Florida, which has been having a huge surge in coronavirus cases and “everyone is wearing a mask there,” Richard Cox said.

Bethany Cox called masks “a good idea. It seems to be what’s slowing the spread of the virus.”

It’s not only chain retail stores that are now requiring customers to wear masks.

Yiping Weed, owner of Yiping’s Asian Market on Main Street in West Lebanon, began allowing customers inside her market for the first time only last week. A sign on the store announces “masks required,” and Weed is allowing only two customers at a time inside the store and they must use hand sanitizer first that is available at the door.

“If they don’t wear a mask, I won’t let them in,” Weed said, wearing a mask herself. “But they do.”

Last week the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, issued a press release calling on Americans to wear masks.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19. 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,” Redfield wrote.

Read the full CDC press release below.


Graphic/NPR

New daily cases are rising in 50 places, including:
STATEAVG. THIS WEEKPER 100K% CHANGE
VS. 2 WEEKS AGO
Montana113 new cases/day11 per 100K+151%
Idaho542 new cases/day30 per 100K+85%
Washington973 new cases/day13 per 100K+77%
Oklahoma754 new cases/day19 per 100K+76%
Alabama1,898 new cases/day39 per 100K+71%
Virginia942 new cases/day11 per 100K+71%
Missouri728 new cases/day12 per 100K+69%
Maryland677 new cases/day11 per 100K+64%
Wisconsin829 new cases/day14 per 100K+54%
Tennessee2,190 new cases/day32 per 100K+54%
Texas10,384 new cases/day36 per 100K+51%

Note: Daily cases are a 7-day average to smooth out day-to-day variations in the data. – NPR


These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.


Carol Robidoux contributed to this report.


July 14, 2020

CDC calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread

JAMA editorial reviews latest science, while case study shows masks prevented COVID spread

Americans are increasingly adopting the use of cloth face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the latest science may convince even more to do so.

In an editorial published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), CDC reviewed the latest science and affirms that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities. There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. “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.”

This review included two case studies out today, one from JAMA, showing that adherence to universal masking policies reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission within a Boston hospital system, and one from CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), showing that wearing a mask prevented the spread of infection from two hair stylists to their customers in Missouri.

Additional data in today’s MMWR showed that immediately after the White House Coronavirus Task Force and CDC advised Americans to wear cloth face coverings when leaving home, the proportion of U.S. adults who chose to do so increased, with 3 in 4 reporting they had adopted the recommendation in a national internet survey.

The results of the Missouri case study provide further evidence on the benefits of wearing a cloth face covering. The investigation focused on two hair stylists — infected with and having symptoms of COVID-19 — whose salon policy followed a local ordinance requiring cloth face coverings for all employees and patrons. The investigators found that none of the stylists’ 139 clients or secondary contacts became ill, and all 67 clients who volunteered to be tested showed no sign of infection.

The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that cloth face coverings provide source control – that is, they help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others. The main protection individuals gain from masking occurs when others in their communities also wear face coverings.

COVID-19 prevention in a Missouri hair salon

When two stylists at a Missouri hair salon tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, researchers from CoxHealth hospitals, Washington University, the University of Kansas, and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department worked together to trace contacts, investigate the cases, and publish their findings in the MMWR.

One of the stylists developed respiratory symptoms but continued to see clients for eight days. The other, who apparently became infected from her co-worker, also developed respiratory symptoms and continued to see clients for four days.

The salon in which they worked had a policy requiring both stylists and their clients to wear face coverings, consistent with the local government ordinance. Both stylists wore double-layered cloth face coverings or surgical masks when seeing clients. The median appointment time was 15 minutes and ranged from 15 to 45 minutes. More than 98% of clients wore a face covering—47% wore cloth face coverings, 46% wore surgical masks, and about 5% wore N-95 respirators.

When customers were asked whether they had been ill with any respiratory symptoms in the 90 days preceding their appointment, 87 (84%) reported that they had not. None of the interviewed customers developed symptoms of illness. Among 67 (48%) customers who volunteered to be tested, all 67 tested negative for the virus that causes COVID-19. Several family members of one of the stylist’s subsequently developed symptoms and received a diagnosis of COVID-19.

Survey: Acceptance of face-mask guidance increased

CDC analyzed data from an internet survey of a national sample of 503 adults during April 7–9 and found that about 62% said they would follow the newly announced recommendations to wear a face mask when outside the home. A repeat survey during May 11-13 showed that the percentage of adults endorsing face mask wearing increased to more than 76%.

The increase was driven largely by a significant jump in approval by white, non-Hispanic adults, from 54% to 75%.  Approval among Black, non-Hispanic adults went up from 74% to 82%, and remained stable among Hispanic/Latino adults at 76% and 77%.

There was also a large increase in face-mask approval among respondents in the Midwest, from 44% to 74%.  Approval was greatest in the Northeast, going from 77% to 87%.

Resources:

MMWR Article: Factors Associated with Cloth Face Coverings Use during the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, April and May 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6928e3.htm?s_cid=mm6928e3_w

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