What We’re Reading: Vaccine Trials to Begin in China; Stricter Mask Mandates Issued; Trump Wins Counties With Highest Virus Cases

AstraZeneca will begin clinical trials of its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine in China; 2 states impose stricter mask mandates; President Donald Trump wins counties with highest infection rates.

AstraZeneca Begins COVID-19 Candidate Trials in China

AstraZeneca plans to begin early and midstage clinical trials of its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate in China this year, Reuters reports. The company and its partner on the project, the University of Oxford, expect data from late-stage trials taking place in other countries to be released soon. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said if the vaccine is successful, the company will file for simultaneous emergency approvals in as many countries as possible. The Chinese government currently has a deal with Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products to ensure annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses by the end of the year.

Maine, Massachusetts Impose Strict Mask Mandates

Both Maine and Massachusetts will now require individuals to wear masks in indoor and outdoor public spaces at all times, regardless of distance from others, according to The Hill. Maine’s previous policy allowed individuals to remain maskless if they were at least 6 feet away from others. The announcements come as the country faces record increases in daily COVID-19 cases. Most states in the country that require masks to be worn in public exempt instances when individuals are able to stay distanced outside. Currently, Maine is averaging 99 new cases per day, an increase of 227% from the average of 2 weeks ago.

Counties With Greatest COVID-19 Infection Rates Vote for Trump

Counties across the country with the worst virus surges overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump, according an Associated Press analysis. Specifically, in 376 counties with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per capita, 93% cast their votes for the president. The majority were rural counties in Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin. The results are causing public health officials to consider reframing their message on wearing masks and social distancing as they worry about rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. The analysis was limited to counties where at least 95% of precincts had reported results. Rates of COVID-19 cases were calculated per 100,000 residents.