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Coronavirus: Texas border town orders everyone to wear masks or face $1,000 fine

The Texas city of Laredo, on the Mexican border, has ordered its residents to wear face masks when entering any building other than their home — and decreed that should they fail to comply, they will be fined $1,000.

The city council has also extended a 10pm-5am curfew that originally covered children to include all residents. Violators will face the same four-figure penalty.

Laredo's embrace of masks as a key method of controlling the spread of coronavirus puts it ahead of the US government, which has only lately revisited the question of whether wearing them in public is useful.

The CDC's advice has so far been that masks are only necessary where someone is sick or caring for someone else who is; however, CDC director Robert Redfield recently told NPR that the advice is being reviewed "aggressively". 

Some cities, like Laredo, have taken the initiative themselves. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has told Angelenos that wearing masks in public should now be considered necessary. Donning a mask himself at a press briefing, he said: "We're going to have to get used to seeing each other like this. This will be the look."

Texas has so far confirmed more than 4,000 cases of Covid-19, with deaths topping 60. The state capital of Austin recently saw 28 people test positive after returning from a spring break vacation.

Governor Greg Abbott recently issued an executive order bringing Texas's coronavirus strategy closer in line with the "stay at home" model adopted by most other US states, telling residents that "if you're not engaged in an essential service or activity, then you need to be at home for the purpose of slowing the spread of Covid-19". The order will last until 30 April; Texas schools are set to remain closed until 4 May.

Mr Abbott has also drawn heavy criticism for signing an order on 22 March that banned abortions during the outbreak by ruling out all procedures not "immediately medically necessary" to save a life.

And on the matter of survival, the state's lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, recently told Fox News that older Americans should accept that it is more important to save the economy from the effects of the pandemic than it is to protect them from getting infected.

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