Americans discussed mask mandates and the reopening of schools during the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, when state and local officials imposed conflicting orders for the second time in a row, and cases across the country increased by more than 70,000.
The United States recorded at least 70,674 new COVID-19 infections on Friday after rising a record 77,499 a day earlier. This is the largest increase in a country since the pandemic began, according to Reuters.
Deaths in the U.S. on Friday increased by at least 912, the fourth day in a row that more than 900 people died per day.
In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp sued the Mayor of Atlanta to prevent her from prescribing masks.
The Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, announced a plan to offer both personal and distance learning in the country's third largest school district, against the objection of the teachers' union, which only wants distance learning.
The Americans are politically divided over mask orders, with conservatives rather than liberals describing the rules as violating their constitutional rights.
"Anyone who says that (wearing a mask) is a violation of their freedom – no, it is not. Because a seat belt is required and is supposed to save your life," said Sharon Taylor, 48, a cardiothoracic nurse in Atlanta.
With schools scheduled to resume in a few weeks, local officials across the country have announced various plans to resume schooling.
Trump says no to the national mask mandate
California governor Gavin Newsom, who has previously allowed school districts in the country's most populous state to set their own guidelines, said Friday that schools could only be reopened in counties that haven't been on a deteriorating trend watchlist for 14 days stand.
By Friday, 30 of the state's 58 counties were on the list and schools there must remain closed. Among them are the counties of Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego, which make up nearly 40% of the state's population.
According to a Reuters analysis, the United States recorded an average of 60,000 cases per day in July, with cases increasing in 41 states on Friday. Texas and Arkansas reported record deaths on Friday, while Kansas, Ohio, North Dakota and Puerto Rico reported record infections.
US President Donald Trump has called for a return to normality and stressed the importance of reviving the economy. The Trump administration and some health experts argue that children are better off in classrooms to develop and enable parents to return to work.
Trump told Fox News on Friday that he did not believe in implementing a national mask mandate.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease specialist, urged political leaders "to be as vigorous as possible so that your citizens wear masks".
Miami Beach, Florida imposed a curfew at 8 p.m. in its entertainment district after social media posts showed maskless revelers in restaurant terraces.
The Oklahoma City City Council voted for a requirement for inner masks as there was no nationwide mandate to cover the face.
In Georgia, Kemp – a Republican and Trump supporter – urged all Georgians to wear masks for at least four weeks, but said the mandates were unenforceable and suggested that they hamper the economy.
"Brian Kemp is bidding on President Trump," Keisha Lance Bottoms, Democratic Mayor of Atlanta, who tested positive for the corona virus, told CNN on Friday.
The 68-year-old Louis Charles from Atlanta sided with the mayor on Friday when he was alone in a mask and searched his mail in front of a post office.
"It is wrong," said Charles. "The mayor is trying to help people. This is a pandemic. How much worse does he want it to be?"
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)