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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman October 7, 2020

No, these 5 states aren’t ‘mask free.’ There are local mask requirements

If Your Time is short

  • None of these states have a statewide mask mandate, but cities and counties in each have orders requiring face coverings.

As Americans continue to argue over wearing face masks as an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, popular posts on Facebook are inaccurately claiming that Florida, Georgia, Idaho, South Dakota and Tennessee are now all "mask free." 

None of those states has a statewide mask mandate, but municipalities in each do have mask requirements.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing when possible to mitigate the spread of the virus. The health agency also says most children and adults should "wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."

As of Oct. 1, 33 states and the District of Columbia require people to wear face coverings in public. One state, Mississippi, has lifted its mandate.

Florida doesn’t have a statewide mask order, but several cities and large counties, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Hillsborough, have mask requirements.

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In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp revised his coronavirus health order on Aug. 15 to allow local governments to impose local mask requirements, as Atlanta and others have done, reversing a month-old ban. Cities and counties that have 100 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the state can enforce mask requirements on public property.

Idaho's capital and largest city, Boise, requires masks in public, as do several other cities in the state. 

South Dakota’s fourth-largest city, Brookings City, approved an indoor public face covering ordinance and businesses in tourist areas, like Rapid City, are enforcing mask policies.

In Tennessee, an executive order from Gov. Bill Lee urges residents to "wear face coverings in public places." Knox County, Shelby County, Memphis and Nashville, which make up a large chunk of the state’s population, have all enacted mask mandates.

None of the states in the post has a statewide order requiring people to wear masks, but local governments in all have enacted some sort of face covering policy, and businesses have the right to enforce mask-wearing.

We rate this Mostly False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Sept. 27, 2020

Centers for Disease and Prevention, Considerations for Wearing Masks, Aug. 7, 2020 

AARP, State-by-State Guide to Face Mask Requirements, Oct. 1, 2020

Axios, The states where face coverings are mandatory, Aug. 4, 2020 

Factcheck.org, Viral Posts Don’t Give Full Picture of Mask Mandates in States, Oct. 5, 2020 

Florida Dept. of Health, Public Health Advisory, June 22, 2020

Georgia executive order, Aug. 15, 2020

Atlanta executive order, July 8, 2020 

Dakota News Now, Brookings the first South Dakota city to implement mask mandate, Sept. 9, 2020 

City of Boise, Public Health Emergency Order 20-10, July 2, 2020 

Idaho Statesman, More Idaho counties require face coverings in public after spike in COVID-19 cases, Aug. 11, 2020

Associated Press, Knox and Shelby join Nashville, Memphis in mask mandate, July 3, 2020

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No, these 5 states aren’t ‘mask free.’ There are local mask requirements

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