Mask debate continues to be heated in the U.S.

(NBC) As record numbers battle coronavirus, others are fighting over face masks with some even burning them in protest. Now, Doctor Anthony Fauci is suggesting they may need to be mandatory nationwide.

Over the weekend, the mask debate fired up Americans. In South Florida, demonstrators burned masks after Palm Beach County officials extended their mask mandate.

As new infections soar across the country, masks continue to be in the center of a civil rights and public health battle from the White House and beyond.

The Dakotas lead the nation in COVID cases per-capita. In South Dakota, leaders are divided on the message over masks. The mayor of Sioux Falls, Paul Tenhaken, pleaded with residents to put them on. “Wear a dang mask, when you’re indoors!” he said. “We’re not asking you to sign up for the draft here!”

The governor said it should be a choice if folks want to wear a mask, they should be free to do so. Similarly, those who don’t want to wear a mask shouldn’t be shamed into wearing one.

But Doctor Fauci says now might be the time for national action. “Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it,” he said.

The CDC recommends mask-wearing when social-distancing isn’t possible citing “laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets.” And a new study suggests that if 95% of Americans wore masks, at least 100,000 lives could be saved through February. But not everyone believes in the science.

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