With coronavirus cases rising in dozens of states, America's two biggest retailers have made masks mandatory for shoppers nationwide. Walmart announced Wednesday that face masks will be required at all Walmart and Sam's Clubs locations as of Monday, the Washington Post reports. The company said around two-thirds of its stores are in areas where public health regulations already require masks to be worn. Kroger announced later in the day that masks will be required in all its stores starting next Wednesday. In other developments:
- Cases rising in 46 states. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of date from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day average of new cases across 46 states is higher than their average in the last two weeks. That's up from 44 states at the start of the month and 21 at the beginning of June. In some states, including Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, new cases are up more than 20% from a week earlier. The proportion of COVID-19 cases that come back positive has been rising since mid-June and now stands at 8.7%.
- Rose Parade canceled. In Pasadena, Calif., organizers said the 2021 Rose Parade has been canceled, though they hope the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl college football game will still go ahead, the AP reports. This is the first time the parade has been called off since 1945.
- More states issue mask orders. In Alabama, which reported a record high of 47 coronavirus deaths Wednesday, Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order Wednesday for face masks to be worn in public, the New York Times reports. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock also issued a statewide mask order.
- CDC director doesn't oppose data collection change. CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday that he has no objection to the administration's decision to have hospital coronavirus data collected by a private company instead of the agency, the AP reports. Some experts, however, are concerned by the move and have accused the administration of trying to "blind" the CDC.
- Houston schools are staying closed. The Houston Independent School District—the largest in Texas, and one of the largest in the US—says the start of the school year will delayed until after Labor Day, and classes will be online-only for at least the first 6 weeks, the Houston Chronicle reports. Texas reported a record 10,800 new infections.
- Spain records highest case numbers since May. Spain, which was hit early and hard by the pandemic, reported 390 new infections Wednesday, the highest since May 22, the Guardian reports. European Union authorities have urged Spain and other EU nations to bring flu vaccinations forward to summer to reduce the risk of simultaneous flu and COVID-19 outbreaks later this year.
- Child vaccinations down sharply. The United Nations says that because of disruption caused by the pandemic, worldwide child vaccinations for diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough are down for the first time in nearly 30 years, the BBC reports. WHO chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus warned that the missed vaccinations could cause more sickness and death than COVID-19.
(Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has tested positive for the virus