Since Monday, 11 different states have announced either the end of most mask mandates, or the easing of some restrictions, even despite protests from the federal government.
According to ABC News, the changes have mostly focused on the highly contentious indoor mask mandates, and particularly mask mandates in schools. The 11 states that have announced such changes are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.
The state of Nevada allowed both its universal indoor mask mandate and indoor school mask mandate to expire yesterday, February 10th; New York’s indoor mask mandate expired the same day, while the indoor school mandate remains in effect. Indoor mask mandates in Delaware and Rhode Island both expire today; while California’s indoor mandate will expire on February 15th.
Washington remains the most restrictive of these states, with both its indoor mandate and school mandate remaining in effect; the state did, however, announce that its universal outdoor mask mandate will expire on February 18th. California will also be retaining its indoor school mandate for the time being, while Illinois’ school mandate is still going through a legal battle in the courts; at the same time, Illinois’ indoor mandate is set to expire on February 28th.
Other states that have announced the coming expiration of their indoor school mask mandates include Connecticut (February 28th), Delaware (March 31st), Massachusetts (February 28th), New Jersey (March 7th), Oregon (March 31st), and Rhode Island (March 4th). Oregon’s overall indoor mandate will expire the same day as the school mandate.
The announcements, coming overwhelmingly from states controlled by the Democratic Party, seem to signal a massive shift in political opinion against COVID-19 restrictions. Mandates regarding masks and vaccinations were already unpopular with most Americans, but retained steady support in blue states; the sudden reversal by some of the most heavily Democratic states in the country indicates that even voters most likely to support mandates are growing tired of the daily restrictions.
The reversals come even despite protests from federal officials, who insist that mandates must remain in place for the foreseeable future. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that the CDC “still recommends that all schools encourage students to wear well-fitting masks consistently and while indoors. And that’s consistent with our guidance that still also recommends that people mask in public indoor settings in areas of high or substantial transmission.”
“We owe it to our children to make sure that they can safely stay in school,” Walensky continued. “Right now, that includes masking. We’ve seen outbreaks that have occurred in communities where students were not masked in schools and had to close. … And much of our guidance is based on the amount of community transmission.”
Despite Walensky’s unverified claims, science has overwhelmingly proven that children are extremely unlikely to catch the coronavirus. Those that do are often asymptomatic and rarely have to be hospitalized. Further studies have proven that masks provide little to no protection against the transmission of the disease, and in fact actually increase health risks with prolonged and consistent use.