For a long time, it felt like this pandemic would never end. Suddenly, however, SARS CoV-2 appears to be making its grand exit. So much so that state governments and city officials around the country are lifting mandates and restrictions. With permission from the CDC, even large cities such as New York and San Francisco are abandoning COVID-19 constraints like vaccination and mask requirements. Does this mean the pandemic has officially run its course?
The Big Apple Loosens the Reins
Consistently downward trends of positive coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths initiated a review of New York’s restrictions. On Feb. 28, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that mask mandates across the city were no longer being enforced, regardless of vaccination status. While public establishments no longer need to require masks indoors, places like public transportation, nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals are still on the hook. Hochul stated that she needed more time to review the data before determining if it is safe enough to squash the rule altogether.
“I want the data to see whether or not we’re maintaining a low level [of COVID-19 cases] or whether or not it’s vacillating back and forth,” Hochul said.
When it comes to schools, though, she felt it was safe to go ahead and allow students the choice to wear masks. New York City Mayor Eric Adams agreed that it was time to determine if face coverings in school were still necessary, but he too wanted to conduct more research to be sure it is the right call. The final decision regarding masks in New York City schools comes March 4.
California Agrees to Make Changes
In a similar fashion, California is lifting many of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions with comparable exceptions. Masks will remain in hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities, but schools can decide for themselves.
“California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Unfortunately for kids and parents, the counties and school districts are allowed to impose their own rules, meaning that students could remain masked for an unforeseeable length of time. Officials in the Golden State still highly recommend that the schools continue to require masks indoors.
Since they were put in place two years ago, mask mandates and other restrictions have been a controversial topic between Democrats and Republicans. But certainly, two progressive states in the process of lifting the most draconian mandates is a sign that it might be the end of the trail for the coronavirus and its devastating effects that extended beyond physical to political.
Read more from Kirsten Brooker.