States are Dropping Mask Mandates and COVID-19 Restrictions

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Radio.wosu.org

Some states have started planning to lift mask mandates for businesses.

Suhani Bhanvadia, Section Editor

On March 2nd, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that “It is now time to open Texas 100%” and his executive order allowing all businesses to fully reopen will be effective March 10th. Abbott cited lower hospitalization and virus positivity rates that have been declining for two months. According to ABC News, Texas will be joining other Republican states – Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, and North Dakota – in ending mask requirements.

Dr. Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky have expressed their criticism of the plans. Dr. Fauci stated that restrictions should not be lifted until the number of new cases falls below 10,000 a day nationwide and that “We have to carefully look at what happens over the next week or so […] before you start making the understandable need to relax on certain restrictions” (ABC News). Dr. Walensky agrees when pointing out that “now is not the time as the latest data suggests that these declines may be stalling, potentially leveling off and still [at] a very high number” (democracynow.org).

As more states begin to drop mask mandates and COVID-19 regulations, depending on their success, we may expect to see other states follow their lead. However, if these orders result in an increased number of cases and deaths, states may respond by returning to the stricter, original regulations from the beginning of the pandemic.

As states begin to allow businesses to open up, some businesses may still choose to keep mask mandates. Previously, there have been numerous cases in which certain customers have responded with violence or hostile reactions to mask rules. Now that mandates are being lifted, if businesses choose to keep these rules – whether as a result of a local legal mandate or in the interest of public safety – we can expect to see a similar or even worse backlash.

We still need to be careful and wait for the number of cases to go down before transitioning back to normal.”

— Hannah Bucklin (11)

Dropping mask mandates has also led to a false sense of safety for those living in these states. Despite the distribution of vaccines, no state has been fully vaccinated yet and it is still recommended for vaccinated people to continue to wear masks. Hannah Bucklin (11) shares that “even though some people have access to vaccines, we still need to be careful and wait for the number of cases to go down before transitioning back to normal. ” Although it may seem safe to begin returning to normal as vaccines continue to be distributed, it is still important to follow the CDC guidelines.