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More states require masks; Georgia bans mandate

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As coronavirus cases rise in more than 40 states, more and more of the nation's governors are issuing mask mandates, including most recently Montana's Steve Bullock, Alabama's Kay Ivey and Arkansas’s Asa Hutchinson.

But Georgia's Brian Kemp is moving in the other direction.

The Republican governor issued an executive order late on Wednesday barring mayors in his state from mandating the use of face coverings, and the reaction was swift.

The mayor of Savannah, Van Johnson - a Democrat who issued a mask mandate in his city on July 1 - said on Twitter: "It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us."

On Thursday, Kemp announced he is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city's mask mandate, saying it violated his executive order.

Just hours before he issued that order, Kemp greeted President Donald Trump in Atlanta, first with his mask off, and then quickly put it back on.

Trump himself has been at odds with his own health officials' advice on face coverings, wearing a mask in public only once during a visit to a military hospital.

Roughly half of the country's governors have ordered some kind of mask-wearing requirement, including in California where cases are surging.

In Republican-led Texas, where cases and hospitalizations hit a record high this week, masks are required only in counties where infection rates are high.

But Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has resisted any kind of statewide mandate. On Thursday, Florida reported its third record increase in deaths this month.

Also declining statewide mask requirements are Republican governors Doug Ducey of Arizona and Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma.

On Wednesday, Stitt became the country's first governor to test positive for COVID-19.

In the states that don't have government-ordered face covering mandates, the nation's major retailers have taken the lead.

Walmart, Target, Starbucks and others have implemented their own policies that require shoppers to wear masks.

To some, the country's fragmented approach to wearing masks reflects a greater lack of leadership from the White House - critics emerging even from the president's own party.

Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, who serves as the Republican chair of the National Governors Association, slammed Trump's overall coronavirus response in a scathing Washington Post op-ed, writing: "Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death. So every governor went their own way, which is how the United States ended up with such a patchwork response."

Asked about the President’s coronavirus response Thursday – the White house spokesperson said it was "historic and speaks for itself."

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