Coronavirus: Target employees will be required to wear masks in high-risk areas

Employees of the Target retail chain will be required to wear masks in counties that have a substantial or high risk of COVID-19 transmission as the delta variant continues to drive up infection rates across the U.S.

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The policy will go into effect Tuesday, according to a statement posted on the company’s website. The retailer will also “strongly recommend face coverings for all guests in areas with a substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC.”

“We’ll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely,” the statement said.

>> Related: How do you know if you have the delta variant; what are the symptoms?

The decision comes one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated Americans, suggesting that they resume wearing masks in areas that are seeing high or substantial rates of COVID-19 transmission. The CDC defines places with high COVID-19 transmission rates as those where 50 to 100 new cases have been reported per 100,000 people in a seven-day period. Places with substantial transmission rates are reporting more than 100 cases in the same period of time.

>> Related: CDC mask recommendations: Is your county a ‘high transmissibility’ area?

Officials with retail giant Walmart and grocery chain Publix also announced last week that their employees will be required to wear masks in accordance with the CDC’s latest recommendations.

Nationwide, community transmission rates of COVID-19 remain high. According to CDC data, more than 101,000 new cases were reported in the last seven-day period for which data was available, which ended Sunday. The number amounts to 152.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people across the U.S.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Total US COVID-19 cases top 35 million

About 58% of Americans have so far gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to the CDC. About 50% of the country has been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to lead the world with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, with more than 35 million reported as of Monday morning, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University. Since the start of the pandemic, over 613,000 people have died nationwide of COVID-19.

Globally, 198.5 million cases of the viral infection have been reported, resulting in 4.2 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

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