The Biden administration refuses to join a growing number of Democrat governors relaxing mask mandates in their states.
Govs. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., John Carney, D-Del., Ned Lamont, D-Conn., Kate Brown, D-Ore., and Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., have announced the lifting of mask restrictions in some of the bluest states. Govs. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., and J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., were expected to do likewise Wednesday.
No such announcement was expected from the White House or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite the lessening effect of the omicron variant.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Reuters on Tuesday that “now is not the moment" to drop mask mandates in schools and other public places.
However, a bipartisan group of governors meeting with Biden said they wanted a "return to a greater state of normality" and to "move beyond the pandemic," Politico reported.
In Virginia on Tuesday, 10 of 21 state Senate Democrats joined Republicans to pass an amendment to a bill that would allow parents to opt out of school mask mandates by July.
"In an overwhelming bipartisan show of support, the Senate of Virginia took a significant step today for parents and children,'" Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R-Va., said in a statement.
"I applaud Sen. [Chap] Petersen's amendment to give parents the right to decide whether their children should wear masks in schools. In the last week, we have seen Democrat-led states like Oregon, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware move away from universal mask mandates in schools."
Voters' support for mask and vaccine mandates is declining. A recent Monmouth University poll found that 70% of Americans agree with the sentiment that "it's time we accept that COVID is here to stay, and we just need to get on with our lives."
It's not just Republicans leading the way. Urgency of Normal, a new advocacy group made up of respected doctors, also is urging a return to normalcy.
"Youth depression, suspected suicide attempts, drug overdose deaths, and obesity have all risen dramatically during the pandemic," the group wrote in its mission statement. "The unintended consequences of pandemic restrictions are now a greater risk to our children than COVID, and we must act on that reality."
Politico reported that high-profile scientific writers also are backing the loosening of mask mandates.
"Times have changed. Cases are falling rapidly. Vaccines are widely available for everyone 5 and older, and they work: People vaccinated and boosted are 97 times less likely to die of covid-19 compared with the unvaccinated," Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and the former health commissioner of Baltimore, wrote Tuesday in The Washington Post.
"Research also shows that respirator masks (N95, KN95 or KF94) are highly effective at protecting wearers, even if others around them are unmasked.
"All of this explains why mask requirements were the right policy before and why masking can now move from a government-imposed mandate to an individual decision."
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