On Tuesday, NewsMax reported that governors in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Oregon will be ending statewide mask requirements in schools by the end of February or March. The mask mandates are ending because the number of Omicron cases has drastically declined.
The article reports:
The changes also come amid a growing sense that the virus is never going to go away and Americans need to find a way to coexist with it. And it was noted by some observers that blue-state leaders were moving to act in favor of relaxing COVID restrictions ahead of a midterm election cycle in which several polls suggest Dems may incur heavy losses, perhaps losing control of one or both chambers of Congress. One reason Republicans are gaining traction: concern over overly restrictive and protracted pandemic mandates.
So is this politics or science?
The article notes:
In a statement, the union (New Jersey Education Association, the state’s biggest teachers union) noted that trends show COVID-19 heading in the right direction, and added: “It is appropriate for Gov. Murphy to allow local districts to continue to require masking in communities where that is prudent based on local conditions.”
Nationwide, new COVID-19 cases per day have plunged by more than a half-million since mid-January, when they hit a record-shattering peak of more than 800,000. Cases have been declining in 47 states over the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Also, the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 has fallen 28% since mid-January to about 111,000.
Deaths are still running high at more than 2,400 per day on average, the most since last winter, reflecting a lag between when victims become infected and when they die.
The article notes that the end of the mandates does not necessarily mean the end of masking:
In New Jersey, it is unclear how many and how soon the state’s 600-plus school districts might end the wearing of masks.
In Paterson, the state’s third-biggest city, the school system will take time to consult with administration officials, principals, parents and staff, said district spokesperson Paul Brubaker.
Melissa Alfieri-Collins, a mother of two who disagrees with mask mandates in schools, saying she prefers “choice,” called the governor’s decision good news. But she raised concern that districts might keep mask rules in place.
“For this reason, parents need an opt-out option for when and if districts do this,” she said.
Connecticut will also allow school districts to retain the mandate. It’s unclear if Delaware will follow suit, but the governor said he wanted to give school districts time to consider a local mandate.
I suspect we will see other states suspend their mask mandates as we get closer to the mid-term election.