Four blue states preparing to ditch mask mandates

Four blue states preparing to ditch mask mandates
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Yesterday, Allahpundit pointed out one of the early cracks in the blue wall of support for mask mandates, particularly in public schools. New Jersey’s governor seemed to be ready to throw in the towel and stop fighting public sentiment on the issue. Well, shortly after that, the push to put an end to the mandates appeared to start spreading faster than the Omicron variant. Three more blue state governors joined Phil Murphy in saying that mandates would be coming to an end either this month or in March. Oregon, Connecticut, and Delaware jumped on the bandwagon, with the governors of those states sounding suspiciously like the protesters who have been demanding that people – particularly school children – be allowed to go back to some semblance of normal life and get their early social and educational development back on track. There are still going to be some holdouts for a while longer, however. (Associated Press)

The governors of four states announced plans Monday to lift statewide mask requirements in schools by the end of February or March, citing the rapid easing of COVID-19′s omicron surge.

The decisions in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Oregon were announced as state and local governments grapple with which virus restrictions to jettison and which ones to keep in place. The changes also come amid a growing sense that the virus is never going to go away and Americans need to find a way to coexist with it.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the move “a huge step back to normalcy for our kids” and said individual school districts will be free to continue requiring masks after the state mandate ends March 7.

Murphy actually uttered the phrase “we have to learn how to live with COVID.” That sentiment was verboten in liberal circles until very recently and could get you thrown off of Twitter or Facebook. And now progressive elected officials are saying it openly. The shift has been rapid and dramatic.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont similarly said that his mask mandate for schools would end on February 28th. The governors of Oregon and Delaware will hold off until the end of March.

Another huge reversal on this topic came from the White House. In response to the decisions of these governors, Jen Psaki said that “universal mask-wearing in schools still remains our recommendation.” (Note carefully the use of the word recommendation as opposed to “mandate.”) But she went on to claim that the White House wasn’t faulting anyone for deciding otherwise, saying, “It’s always been up to school districts. That’s always been our point of view and always been our policy from here.”

That’s a laughable claim coming from Psaki’s lectern. Anyone opposing mandates was previously seen as being evil and the drivers of the pandemic. Federal mandates of various sorts have been coming out of the White House on a regular basis and they’ve gone to court repeatedly to fight those who opposed the mandates. But now they’re really trying to claim that allowing local leaders to make their own decisions has “always been our policy?” This would be hilarious if it weren’t so maddening.

So what’s driving this sudden change of heart? At Red State, Brandon Morse identifies the most likely cause. We’re coming into the heart of the election cycle and Governors, along with other elected officials see school mask mandates as a losing issue.

These mask mandates are increasingly losing popularity, especially when they’re enforced on the children, yet the Biden administration still doesn’t seem to have caught up to the reality that mandatory COVID restrictions, in terms of how the populace views them, are going from necessary to irrational and very quickly. What’s more, it damages the credibility of the claim that Democrats are the party of science as it’s been known for some time that children are the least affected group.

“Party of science” indeed. This was never about “the science,” which will always be trumped by “The Politics.” As soon as it became obvious that even liberal parents in blue states were railing against all of these mandates, particularly when they affect children, the pandemic panic quickly turned into an uncomfortable topic of conversation. And now everyone is just going to “learn to live with COVID.” Funny how quickly the worm turns, isn’t it?

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