As the most recent wave of the Omicron variant has been slowing down several state and local governments have been reassessing their current COVID policies (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/democratic-state-city-leaders-covid-mandates). While most states have reopened businesses and schools, certain restrictions are still in place across the country. Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Hawaii, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. still require masks regardless of vaccination status and Connecticut and Rhode Island still require masks for unvaccinated individuals. These same states along with Colorado, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maryland and the cities of Philadelphia and New Orleans require proof of vaccination for employees and customers of certain establishments such as gyms or restaurants.
Conversely, several other states have passed measures that preempt any local limits related to vaccine mandates including Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, Florida, and West Virginia. A majority of the areas that lifted restrictions first were run by Republicans, but some Democrats are starting to follow suit. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock lifted his restrictions on January 31. Recently elected Boston Mayor Michelle Wu also announced that she would reconsider the city’s restrictions once hospitalization reaches fewer than 200 COVID cases per day. Governors have also stepped up. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that mask mandates would end on March 7. Several governors have also announced that masks will no longer be required indoors including California, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Oregon, and Delaware.
Studies have shown that many of the interventions were ineffective or even pointless. Masks have been a hot button issue, but last month the CDC released a statement saying that cloth face coverings offered little to no protection. Heritage Foundation senior fellow for domestic policy Doug Badger said, "It’s pretty clear that these various non-pharmaceutical interventions, which have never been well attested since they were first put in place roughly two years ago, just weren't working".
Did COVID restrictions help limit the pandemic, or did they do more harm than good? Should state and local governments assert themselves more often in situations like this, or is it the job of the federal government to take charge?
Image Credit: Reuters