Wearing a face mask is becoming less necessary as pandemic laws are relaxed across most of the United States, the most evident change in how millions of Americans now see the COVID-19 danger.
Except for Hawaii, every state has either eliminated or is considering eliminating mask laws as the Omicron outbreak subsides, with infections and hospitalizations dropping even as the illness continues to kill roughly 2,000 Americans daily. This month, California, Nevada, and New Mexico all repealed mask regulations. Some of the country’s largest firms have also returned to some form of pre-pandemic existence, with some corporations going even farther and eliminating vaccination requirements for employees.
“I believe people are more comfortable, as seen by the fact that even with the mask requirement, people came out — but I believe it makes a significant difference,” Javier Amaro, a vendor in Las Cruces, New Mexico, told a CBS station.
New York and Rhode Island dropped their indoor mask regulations for companies last month, but continue to demand them in schools. By the end of March, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C. want to eliminate mask requirements. A Massachusetts school mask order is slated to expire at the end of February.
Nobody is Ecstatic
“I’m rather uncomfortable with that,” Massachusetts mom Kerry Arouca told the Associated Press following her state’s decision. “I believe that until we have a better grip on COVID-19, children should try to keep their masks on, taking occasional mask breaks outside until everyone is vaccinated.”
At the end of October, one school district in West Baton Rouge, Louisiana, discontinued the need for students to wear masks. “Knowing the pulse of our community, they were prepared,” the district’s superintendent, Wesley Watts, added.
Masks are also optional in a Vienna, Illinois, school district, following a judge’s decision invalidating a state law. “We’ve been at this for two years. Thus, we have some statistics, some trend history, and some things to consider “Joshua Stafford, the district superintendent, stated.
“On the other hand, there are others who suffer from autoimmune illnesses or other mitigating health situations, which must be evaluated against the worldwide epidemic,” Stafford explained, adding that it was “not a simple decision.”
Not Quite Prepared to Unmask
Governor David Ige of Hawaii made the choice to adhere to the state’s mask regulations more readily. Hawaii has the second-lowest COVID-19 mortality rate in the country, “in part due to the indoor mask regulation,” Ige told local news station KITV.
Puerto Rick is likewise adopting a more cautious stance, with no immediate plans to relax the mask rule.
You gotta love Hawaii. It is the only state holding onto its mask mandate. Forty-nine states have announced plans to drop their indoor mask mandates as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations steadily decline. We’ve been on this ride before. Bleh.
— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) February 21, 2022
“We are presently witnessing a prolonged decline in positive rates and hospitalizations, which provides us with a more accurate picture,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said in a statement last week. “However, it is not yet time to relax our guard; we must continue to defend ourselves against this virus and take all required precautions.”
California recently dropped its regulation, which was implemented in mid-December to mitigate the impact of the Omicron variety, but left local health departments free to impose tighter limits. Residents of Los Angeles County will soon be able to enter indoor events without wearing masks as long as they present proof of immunisation.
The new guidelines appear to allow “vaccinated folks to remove their masks indoors at locations that need evidence of vaccination,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn tweeted on Tuesday. “This brings us much closer to state compliance,” she continued.
LA County is unique in California in that it continues to require people to wear masks in indoor public venues, regardless of vaccination status. And, while some jurisdictions have relaxed their requirements for face coverings, unvaccinated individuals are still forced to wear them in some indoor situations, including as nursing homes, public transit, and some schools.
The Los Angeles Unified School District eliminated outdoor mask regulations on all district campuses on Tuesday, but not all youngsters followed suit, as several were seen outdoors wearing masks.
“I believe everyone became accustomed to the masks,” Andrez Mendoza, a student, told a local CBS affiliate. “During my recent physical education class, the teacher stated that we may remove our masks, but no one did.”
LA County DPH is issuing a new Health Order (looks like it will take effect Friday) allowing vaccinated people to take off their masks indoors at places that check for proof of vaccination.
This puts us significantly closer to aligning with the State.
— Janice Hahn (@SupJaniceHahn) February 22, 2022
This reluctance to reveal oneself appears to be shared by a sizable proportion of New Yorkers, at least when it comes to interior areas. Nearly two weeks after Governor Kathy Hochul let the state’s indoor mask mandate to expire, a study revealed that a majority of state citizens believed Hochul should have maintained the rule.
“There is no apparent consensus on the issue of enforcing masks in indoor public venues,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg stated in response to the study results. “However, a plurality of voters, 45%, believe the indoor mask mandate should be retained.”
For the Time Being, the CDC Maintains Its Position
Additionally, the federal government maintains mask rules. The Transportation Security Administration is anticipated to prolong in-flight and airport mask regulations that are now scheduled to expire on March 18, according to Bloomberg News. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA represents 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines.
Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that it may soon relax its mask advice and evaluate whether masks are essential based on hospitalizations. Currently, CDC guidelines suggests that individuals wear masks inside in regions with significant or high transmission, which covers virtually the entire country.
“As we consider future metrics, which will be updated soon, we recognise the critical nature of not just cases — which continue to result in substantial or high community transmission in over 97 percent of our counties nationwide — but also medically severe disease that results in hospitalizations,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing last week. “We must take hospital capacity into account as a secondary barometer.”
“We want to give individuals a vacation from things like mask-wearing when these measures are improving and then reintroduce them if things deteriorate,” the physician noted.