Which states have lifted mask mandates?
Some lawmakers have opted to lift mask mandates as covid-19 cases and hospitalizations rise in their states.
Fourteen states have lifted mask mandates that were put in place to protect residents. Eleven governors from, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, used their executive power to lift the restriction. In Kansas and Utah, the state legislature used their power to get rid of the mandate and in Wisconsin, the mask mandate was struck down in the courts.
Of all these states, half fall under the national average of percent of residents fully vaccinated. Alabama and Mississippi rank the worst in percent of residents that are fully vaccinated, across states and both are seeing a steady increase in covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.
In both states, the Republican governors removed the “mandate” but still released guidance encouraging public mask use.
Why are masks a target?
All of the governorships and state legislatures that repealed statewide mask mandates were Republican-controlled. Many of these lawmakers are allies of former President Trump who wavered and flip-flopped on the issue of masks. Part of the reason these politicians may have taken this policy route could have been to garner support from Trump voters in the state.
President Trump and other Republican leaders have made the issue of masks political, evidenced by the results of a Quinnipiac poll that found that seventy percent of Republicans were opposed to state-wide mask mandates, compared to only fourteen percent of Democrats.
As more and more people in the US become vaccinated and the spread of the virus slows significantly, our need for masks will gradually decrease. However, we have yet to reach that point. Yesterday, 28 April, the US confirmed more than 50,000 new cases, and over 40,000 people are hospitalized. Deaths are still high with an average of more than 700 being reported each day.
What does the new CDC guidance say about masks?
On Tuesday 27 April, the CDC released its new guidance for fully vaccinated individuals but there was also some information included for those who have yet to receive one or both doses. When participating in outdoor activities like hiking, running, or cycling, with members of your household, you do not need to wear a mask. However, the CDC is still advocating that individuals, vaccinated and non, should wear masks at outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people not part of their household. They also should keep using masks at outdoor restaurants whereas the fully vaccinated can go maskless.