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New Hampshire to issue statewide mask mandate

New Hampshire to issue statewide mask mandate
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New Hampshire Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans New Hampshire to issue statewide mask mandate GOP holds line in state legislatures, dealing blow to Democrats MORE (R) on Thursday issued an executive order implementing a statewide mask mandate beginning Friday amid a new surge in coronavirus infections. 

According to the order, everyone within the state over the age of five must wear facial coverings while in public, both outside and indoors, “where they are unable to or do not consistently maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from persons outside their own households.” 

The order is set to remain in place through Jan. 15. 

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“This is not a decision that came lightly, and many factors were taken into consideration with regards to the data, the impact, and the effects on our citizens,” Sununu tweeted Thursday afternoon. 

“Through this crisis, the state has remained consistent in urging folks to wear masks,” the governor added. “They work, they help prevent the spread of COVID, and people should wear them. We have said all along that a mask mandate was always on the table, and that we should let data drive our decisions.” 

“In looking at the data, it is clear that a statewide mask mandate is in the best interest of our citizens,” he continued. 

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Sununu then issued a message for those who may be opposed to the order, tweeting, “Instituting this mask mandate today will allow us to keep our economy open and helps ensure our health care system has the capacity and workforce it needs in the coming weeks.”

The mandate comes as the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recorded 529 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, as well as two deaths, bringing the state totals to 16,277 confirmed cases and 506 fatalities due to the virus. 

Other states across the country, including Iowa, Wisconsin and Kansas, have also reimposed or extended existing mask mandates in recent days amid an intense spike in coronavirus infections. 

As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 11.7 million people in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19 and at least 251,100 have died, according to The New York Times coronavirus database.