California is set to DROP school mask mandates in two weeks as cases fall 65% and pressure grows on other states to follow suit as cases drop 43% across US
- Californian health officials are planning to drop school mask mandates as early as two weeks from now, joining a growing list of liberal leaning states to make the move
- Despite plummeting cases in much of the U.S., the CDC and Joe Biden have been hesitant to relax mask guidance
California health leaders are indicating that they may soon drop the controversial policy of forcing children to wear masks in schools, joining a growing list of blue states breaking ranks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Biden administration – both of which are still yet to budge despite plummeting daily Covid infections nationwide.
‘Masking requirements were never put in place to be there forever … it’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when,’ Dr Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Department of Health and Human Services.
Reports indicate that a decision could come as soon as the next two weeks. Many California schools districts have a week-long February break either this week – from the 14th to the 18th – or next from the 21st to 25th. It is a possibility that upon return from next week’s break that mask mandates are lifted.
Covid cases in California have dropped 65 percent over the past few weeks, a steep drop that has been experienced by much of the nation over the past month. Nationwide, cases are down 43 percent over the past week, and the 150,714 average daily infections are a far fall from the 800,000 per day reached at the Omicron surge’s peak in mid-January.
Californian health officials indicated Monday that they are considering lifting the school mask mandate in the state. In doing so, the state would join a growing list of blue states to make the move. Pictured: A young girl in Hong Kong wears a mask
Ghaly also notes that hospitalizations – which is generally an unreliable stat during Omicron – and the state’s test positivity rate has cratered as well. Vaccine uptake is also trending upwards. These are all the ingredients of the end of a Covid surge.
California has already lifted its indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents, with the order being lifted Tuesday.
The Golden state was a part of a wave of blue states last week to lift or relax mandates last week in what was a partially-concentrated effort by the governors to move beyond the pandemic.
Masks in schools have become one of the most controversial remaining Covid policies in America, with parents and teachers largely divided on the issue.
Critics of the mandates fear that forcing children to wear masks in schools will hurt their ability to take part in key socialization at a young age.
Children also do not face much of a risk from the virus when compared to adults, and the CDC reports that less than 0.1 percent of U.S. Covid deaths were among children.
Growing indicators that children face little risk from the virus, combined with plummeting cases, has increased pressure on health officials nationwide to ditch masks in general.
Dr Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member at Pfizer, said last week that Americans are ‘frayed’ after nearly two years of the pandemic, and it is time to let them relax as the pandemic is showing signs of ending.
‘I don’t think it’s imprudent that governors lean forward, anticipating that conditions are going to continue to improve, recognizing that people are frayed,’ he told CNBC’s Squawk Box last week.
‘We have a narrow window of opportunity to restore some sense of normalcy to the schools.’
Some states are starting to listen to those calls from parents and the larger community as well. Connecticut and Massachusetts both set plans in place to lift its school mask mandate on February 28 last week.
Nearby Delaware did the same last week. Ned Lamont, governor of Connecticut, told Squawk Box last week that the decision by the northeastern states was made in tandem.
Other states like Illinois, New Jersey and New York relaxed mask orders last week as well though did not remove face coverings from schools.