Medical societies that represent more than 10,000 physicians and physicians-in-training in Minnesota want state and local leaders to make it mandatory to wear a face mask in all public indoors facilities and on public transportation.
The Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) issued a release Friday on behalf of 20 other state medical groups saying masks should be worn because the "threat of this virus is not over," said Keith Stelter, a medical doctor who presides as president of the MMA.
"The medical benefits of wearing a mask are clear – a mask helps reduce virus transmission, particularly by individuals who are sick but have no symptoms and by individuals who have been infected but do not yet show any symptoms. Masks are also safe to wear," said Stelter.
“Statewide use of masks now in all indoor settings and on public transportation can help Minnesota avoid the resurgence of cases that is happening in many other states and avoid a backwards turn of the dial."
The recommendation comes on the same day that Florida set a new single-day record with more than 9,000 people testing positive for COVID-19 in 24 hours. Outbreaks are also being seen in other states, including Texas and Arizona.
University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm said this week that there are 26 states currently experiencing rising case levels, nine states that have leveled off and 15 others (including Washington, D.C.) that are seeing decreasing numbers.
Minnesota has seen a mixture of leveling off and decreasing numbers since the calendar flipped to June, with this week featuring six consecutive days of single-digit deaths.
Osterholm expects the pandemic to continue as a slow burn with peaks and valleys of outbreak, so he said states like Minnesota that have leveled off or seen decreasing numbers shouldn't be surprised if cases spike again in the near future.
It is not mandatory to wear a mask in most of Minnesota, though it is strongly recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC urges people to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth in public places where maintaining social distancing is difficult. Masks help protect others from your germs, while it's important to note that the CDC says that wearing a mask does not protect you from others who may spread the virus.
In Minneapolis, wearing a mask is required in public indoor spaces. Mayor Jacob Frey used executive powers to mandate masks in public indoor areas on May 26, saying that anyone over the age of 2 who can medically tolerate a mask must wear one at all times in such settings.
The following states already mandate face coverings in public spaces: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia.