Walmart and Sam's Club locations in Central Texas have been asking patrons to wear masks since Governor Greg Abbott issued a statewide mandate earlier this month. Today, the retailer announced that stores across the country will now require shoppers wear masks.

"While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities," company officials wrote in a news release Wednesday. "In addition to posting clear signage at the front of our stores, Walmart has created the role of Health Ambassador and will station them near the entrance to remind those without a mask of our new requirements."

According to the news release, those Walmart Health Ambassadors will be distinguishable by a black polo shirt. They'll work with customers who approach the store without a mask "to try and find a solution". They're reportedly considering different solutions and have not released details.

At Sam's Club, associates at entrances will politely remind customers of the store's mask policy and offer a complimentary mask to anyone who needs one.

"We know it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering," the news release reads. "Our associates will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone."

Company officials say they know people have differing opinions on wearing masks in public, but that they also recognize the role they can play to protect public health with guidance from the CDC.

The video below gives a great explanation of how wearing a mask can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As someone who cares for a family member who's especially vulnerable to respiratory illnesses and the worst potential COVID-19 complications, I thank those taking this seriously and wearing a mask from the bottom of my heart.

To those who aren't wearing a mask when they have no medical reason not to, I would ask that you take just a moment to think about how something as simple as covering your mouth and nose while doing your grocery shopping could help save the lives of vulnerable people in Central Texas.

Whether you're choosing to wear a mask or not, let's try to remember that we're all neighbors and we're in this together. There's no need for situations like this to erupt.

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