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On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to wear two masks at least until June.

De Blasio urged citizens in the Big Apple to add a second mask to their personal protective equipment arsenal in a morning press conference. “Through June, keep doing exactly what you are doing,” he said.

“Not just wear a mask, wear two.” De Blasio further obscured the timeline for the practice, admitting the local government may “continue that guidance for quite a while depending on what is going on.”

The unpopular mayor’s position echoes remarks made by President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in January. “This is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in,” Dr. Fauci said at the time. “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, and you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective.”

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study suggesting multi-layered masking and proper fitting could drastically reduce exposure but stopped short of amending their official guidance.

“I want to be clear that these new scientific data released today do not change the specific recommendations about who should wear a mask or when they should wear one,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at the time, “but they do provide new information on why wearing a well-fitting mask is so important to protect you and others.”

“We continue to recommend that masks should have two or more layers, completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against your nose and the size of your face,” she added. More recently, during remarks focused on reopening schools, Walensky asserted the CDC’s guidance is “free from political meddling.”

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Johnson & Johnson to fall short of 10 million vaccine doses promised by end of February

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Maui Businesses Find Challenge With Mask Mandate Enforcement

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Some Maui businesses face tough calls about who should be exempt from universal mask rules as the county pushes for greater compliance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Privacy laws prevent businesses from asking customers for proof of underlying health issues that exempt them from wearing masks in public, The Maui News reported Tuesday.

Business operators worry some shoppers may be abusing exemption rules by claiming to have medical conditions only to enter without masks.

Requiring customers with medical or disability exemptions to continue wearing face shields complies with Maui County protocols and the state's emergency proclamation regarding the virus, county spokesperson Brian Perry said.

Businesses also have the authority to refuse entry or service, unless an exception such as a medical condition applies, Perry said.

“The proclamation also addresses the use of face shields as a substitute for face masks, but only if there’s an applicable exception to the face covering requirement,” Perry said.

The proclamation remains unclear about allowing exempt customers without face coverings to enter businesses, even with health screenings.

Businesses who violate the mask mandate may be subject to enforcement, fines or mandatory closure, Perry said.

Some store owners and managers said they struggle to keep up with frequent changes to the health proclamation, while enforcement has been inconsistent.

Pukalani Superette President Megan Nakashima said the use of face shields only is not allowed in the store.

“If someone is claiming that they cannot wear a mask due to any reason, we provide the option to order groceries through our curbside pickup program, or they can have a manager shop for them on the spot while they wait outside," Nakashima said.

Maui County on Friday announced the launch of a program to increase the use of face coverings throughout Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

The program, Mask Up for Maui County, enlists volunteers to serve as community ambassadors to remind visitors and residents that masks are mandatory.

Hawaii Department of Health data indicated proper mask use in Maui County reached 96% in mid-January, but recently slipped to 88%.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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