Disney World is tweaking its face mask policy.
Starting Thursday, the theme park resort in Florida will allow visitors to chose whether or not to wear face coverings in outdoor lines, outdoor theaters and outdoor attractions. Masks had been required previously.
Face coverings will remain optional in outdoor common areas. They will still be required for visitors age 2 and up at all indoor locations, such as restaurants, theaters and transportation with the exception of ferry boats.
Disney World closed for two months last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened more than a year ago with strict safety guidelines that involved masking, social distancing and crowd limits.
Last spring, Disney World officials started allowing visitors to go without masks in outdoor common areas.
Last month, Disney officials said the company will be requiring all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. who work on site to be fully vaccinated.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— AP Source: Biden to require vaccines for nursing home staff
— US health officials call for coronavirus booster shots for all
— World Health Organization (WHO) warns against boosters before 1st vaccines for other countries
— Mississippi opens second field hospital in Jackson amid surge
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
Officials in Honolulu, on Hawaii’s Big Island, are considering closing beaches and cancelling the Ironman World Championship in response to a surge of coronavirus cases on the island.
West Hawaii Today reports Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth’s administration is revising its emergency rules and will submit the changes to Gov. David Ige for approval.
That revision could include a return to restrictions at parks and beaches that allow people to only cross the sand to get to the ocean to surf, swim or fish, but not to gather or sit.
The Ironman World Championship is currently set for Oct. 9 in Kailua-Kona. Mayor Roth said a decision would be made soon about whether the event could go on.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t look too positive for Ironman this year,” Roth said. “The question with Ironman is what do you do with all the people who come to spectate.”
ON THE U.S. MAINLAND:
Georgia’s surging coronavirus caseload is prompting new local restrictions amid ongoing opposition to mask and vaccine mandates by the governor.
The city of Decatur next to Atlanta began requiring masks inside grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses on Tuesday. That ordinance, however, does allow them to opt out.
In Atlanta, organizers of September’s Dragon Con convention said they will require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
And the top judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit suspended some jury trials through August. Georgia is in the midst of a surge in infections fueled by the delta variant of the virus.
Nebraska officials are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at a state correctional facility as virus cases surge statewide. After 33 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center in Lincoln, officials paused all visits and volunteer activities there and asked county jails to delay sending new inmates if they can. All adult men who enter the state prison system go through the facility.
Officials said all inmates who test positive for the virus are being housed away from other inmates to limit the spread of COVID-19, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The state Department of Correctional Services has also started providing bars of soap, which inmates had to purchase before the pandemic, and masks to inmates who request them. Department Director Scott Frakes said the increase in cases in the prison system — which lists 36 active cases — follows an increase in the community.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska rose over the past two weeks from 372 new cases per day on Aug. 2 to 451.29 new cases per day on Monday.
A requirement for everyone attending the upcoming New Mexico State Fair to show proof of vaccination is drawing criticism.
The mandate was announced Tuesday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as part of a new public health order that also requires vaccines for health care workers and others.
She also is reinstating a statewide mask mandate for indoor spaces.
An official with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association said Wednesday that the vaccine requirement for the fair comes with short notice and may cost some juniors a year of work if they can’t get vaccinated in time and aren’t allowed to participate.
Cliff Copeland, the association’s northeast regional vice president, said the governor’s office had given no indication through the summer months that a COVID-19 vaccination would be required for the fair, which begins Sept. 9.
The intensive care unit system in Alaska’s largest city is near capacity, amid a rise in COVID-19 cases during what is typically a busy season for hospitals.
Incidents involving tourists, vehicle accidents or outdoor recreation often contribute to busy summers for hospitals, and Anchorage is a medical hub in Alaska.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the city’s critical care units have seen extended periods of capacity concerns compounded by short staffing and a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant.
Figures reported Tuesday by the state health department showed six available adult ICU beds in Anchorage and 35 available adult non-ICU beds.
In Washington state, the Biden administration will require that nursing home staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Biden will announce the move Wednesday afternoon in a White House address. A senior administration official confirmed the announcement on the condition of anonymity to preview the news before Biden’s remarks.
The administration continues to look for ways to use mandates to encourage vaccine holdouts to get shots. The new mandate, in the form of a regulation to be issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, could take effect as soon as next month.
Hundreds of thousands of nursing home workers are not vaccinated, according to federal data. That’s despite those facilities bearing the brunt of the early COVID-19 outbreak and their workers being among the first in the country eligible for shots.
© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.