States Roll Back Coronavirus Mandates

    Although COVID case numbers are still increasing, many states have lifted their mask mandates and eased their health and safety restrictions. States who have never had mask mandates or that have have recently dropped their mandates include Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. 

     For several of these states, the mask mandate is decided by individual counties. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is one of the politicians that has used this decision making process. It was proven that the 81 counties in Kansas that did not have mask mandates saw increases in COVID cases, whereas the 24 counties with mask mandates in Kansas saw decreases in cases. Similarly, Tennessee also had some counties with mandates, while other counties did not. The results also showed that counties with masks saw decreases in cases, and more cases in counties without masks. For many of these states and counties, masks are still required or highly recommended in certain places such as schools and public transportation, but others have completely lifted restrictions. As of March 6, Indiana is the most recent state to ease mask restrictions. 

    With mask mandates being lifted, there are a variety of reactions and opinions. In Texas, some people agree with this decision and are even throwing mask-burning parties. On the other hand, there are citizens who do not feel this decision is appropriate. Other government officials voice their opinion; for example, the mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, says, “Opening everything to 100% while simultaneously nixing our state’s mask mandate is a huge mistake. COVID-19 is still widespread in our community and infecting far too many vulnerable residents.”

     It is important to hear from medical professionals in these situations because they have the most reliable opinions overall. They have been up close and had the most experience with COVID its effects, and some have been involved in research. In an article by Marvin Billsm, he reports, “Dr. James Bien with IU Health Arnett said with more COVID-19 variants being detected in the U.S. it’s important people don’t become lax … people still have to commit to the simple public health measures that have been implemented.” Dr. Bien goes on, explaining, “ masks are doing an incredible job at minimizing the likelihood of spreading COVID-19. And yet spread is still occurring, We are not ready to remove masks… I think it’s unfortunate the mask mandate is going away, I don’t think that’s the right decision because it seems to give people permission to back away from what we know is a disease preventing action that we all can take.”  

     Rachel Droze also published an article giving the stances of medical professionals. In Droze’s article, Dr. Austin Baeth from Iowa says, “Every single colleague that I’ve spoken with, is in disbelief. There is no scientific basis behind this decision. And I worry, I think it’s highly likely actually that there will be Iowans who pay for this decision with their lives.” 

     Dr. Brian Privett, another Iowa doctor, agrees, saying, “I think it’s important for all of us to remember that the one of the reasons why we got here is because of wearing masks and continuing to social distance.” 

     Although there are scientific proof and professional opinions, some states have—and more will most likely become—more and more lenient, and more likely to lift more restrictions.