July 16 (Reuters) — Target Corp. and CVS Health Corp. on Thursday became the latest retailers to require customers wear face coverings while shopping at their U.S. stores, adopting one of the widely used ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The United States has recorded more that 137,000 deaths related to COVID-19 and cases continue to surge in many Southern and Western states.

Walmart Inc., Kroger Co. and Kohls Corp. have also made the use of face masks a must in their outlets.

Target said it would start implementing the policy from August 1, with an exception for those with underlying medical conditions and young children.

Local and state regulations already require shoppers at over 80% of its stores to wear face masks, the retailer said.

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CVS said the policy will come into effect at all its pharmacies on Monday, but it was not asking its employees to act as enforcers.

While many companies have recommended masks for months, they were hesitant to make it a requirement over fears of drawing the ire of shoppers, especially after several videos posted online showed confrontations between customers and store staff.

"What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves," CVS said in a statement.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Arun Koyyur)