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Walmart and Sam's Club to require masks nationwide starting July 20 as COVID-19 cases rise

Kelly Tyko USA TODAY
Winter Haven News Chief

Walmart and Sam's Club will start requiring masks at stores and clubs nationwide starting Monday, July 20, the company announced Wednesday.

"We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC," the retailers' chief operating officers said in a blog post Wednesday.

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The move comes two days after Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said a mask mandate in stores nationwide was "obviously something that's on our minds."

Best Buy and Starbucks started requiring consumers nationwide wear masks Wednesday.

In the blog post written by Dacona Smith, Walmart U.S. chief operating officer, and Lance de la Rosa, Sam's Club chief operating officer, the company says the requirement will bring consistency across stores and clubs. Currently about 65% of the company's more than 5,000 stores and clubs require masks.

Starting on July 20, Smith and de la Rosa wrote the company will give stores "time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols."

Related: 'Wear the damn masks': 9-11 workers who saved lives implore public to help save theirs

More companies are making face coverings a requirement as viral videos of shoppers' tirades and confrontations over being asked to wear them during the coronavirus pandemic erupt.The coronavirus causes the disease COVID-19.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Walmart, Target, Best Buy and other major chains, is asking governors to mandate masks across the nation and says different local mandates have created confusion leading to conflicts between customers and store employees.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko