mask mandate

Will Mask Mandates Return to Mass. and NH? Here's What We Know

After months of decline, new COVID-19 cases in both states are on the rise

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With increasing hospitalizations and mounting COVID-19 case numbers prompted by the Delta variant, municipalities across the country have re-imposed mask mandates and other public health mitigations.

Local leaders in at least five states, including California and Nevada, have reinstated mask requirements, issued facial covering recommendations or threatened the return of strict public health limits for all residents. On a national level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that vaccinated people don’t have to follow such protocols in most settings.

COVID cases rising in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

Massachusetts health officials reported another 477 confirmed coronavirus cases -- the most in a single day since mid-May -- and six new deaths on Thursday as the testing rate increased again.

The report pushed the state's confirmed COVID-19 caseload to 667,818 since the start of the pandemic and its death toll to 17,673. The last time Massachusetts reported more than 477 new cases in one day was on May 16, when 494 cases were reported.

In New Hampshire, the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic has now surpassed 100,000.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 21 new cases per day on July 5 to about 40 new cases per day right now.

Does a mask mandate make sense for Massachusetts?

Three Massachusetts communities, Cambridge, Nantucket and Provincetown, have recently recommended wearing face masks indoors again as new outbreaks emerge across the state.

Gov. Charlie Baker was asked Thursday about whether he anticipated revisiting a mask advisory or mandate.

"We're not looking at changing any of our existing rules or policies," he said. "We have a set of statewide standards and they're based on what we see on a statewide basis. And if communities believe they need to pursue strategies that are more effective and appropriate for them, that they should do so, and that's exactly what Provincetown did."

He also said he has no plans to change mask guidance for school in the fall, despite a call from some lawmakers to revive a school mask mandate amid the spread of the Delta variant.

Gov. Charlie Baker discussed the rise in COVID cases in Massachusetts, saying he does not plan on bringing back any restrictions.

But later Thursday, Boston Mayor Kim Janey said public school students in the city will in fact be wearing masks in the fall.

"There are a number of young children who still are not eligible for the vaccine. Children are currently wearing masks as they are in summer school, and at different programs around the city, and this fall, they will be wearing masks still," she said at a news conference.

What about New Hampshire?

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu was also asked Thursday if increasing COVID cases would prompt him to issue another mask order.

“No, right now we’re not anticipating any of that,” he said. “Folks should be getting vaccinated. That is the key to all of this. That’s how we’re going to keep our numbers low in the future… Right now, we’re not anticipating any restrictive measures.”

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