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Employees of Jo-Ann Fabrics cut pieces and make kits that will allow volunteers to make 5 face masks on Wednesday March 25, 2020.

Target, Kohl’s and CVS joined other national retailers Thursday by announcing they will require customers to wear masks due to COVID-19. On Wednesday, Walmart/Sam’s Club and Kroger announced they will be requiring shoppers to wear masks.

All of those retailers have locations in Kokomo. Each of them directed questions to their corporate offices. However, some of them did send out press releases on the issue.

“As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face covering mandates being implemented,” Walmart said in a press release. “Currently about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings.

“To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”

Kroger will start requiring masks on Wednesday, July 22.

CVS will start requiring masks Monday, July 20, the company announced in a news release Thursday. Kohl’s will also require face masks starting on July 20.

The CVS release also states that, “to be clear, we’re not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer. What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering.

“Since the pandemic began, we’ve done everything we can to keep people safe and healthy,” the release states. “This includes requiring that store employees wear face coverings and encouraging our customers to do so as well.”

Target, meanwhile, will require masks starting Aug. 1.

In an editorial published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the latest science and affirmed 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.

“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 Tuesday, 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.

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 CDC says 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.

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