Democratic state and municipal leaders divided over COVID mandates as country recovers from pandemic

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Some state and local Democratic leaders are beginning to change their minds on COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates; others are not.

As the initial peak of the omicron variant of COVID-19 wanes before spring, some Democratic mayors and governors are lifting rules that require people to show proof of vaccinations at local businesses, wear masks indoors or to send their children to school with masks.

“It’s pretty clear that these various non-pharmaceutical interventions, which have never been well documented since their inception about two years ago, just didn’t work,” said Doug Badger, principal investigator for the studies. domestic politics to conservative thinking. -tank The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital.

Denver among the first

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was one of the first to lift restrictions when he announced Jan. 31 that the city would not extend its emergency ordinance requiring masks and proof of vaccinations for entry. in Denver businesses.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, center, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, right, greet President Biden upon his arrival at Denver International Airport, September 14, 2021.
(Getty Pictures)

“Following extensive discussions with our regional partners … and the downward trajectory of cases, positivity and hospitalizations, Denver will not be extending our public health order,” Hancock said at the time. “These two years have been incredibly difficult for all of us. We need a little less anger and irritability and a little more understanding for people towards each other.

Starting Feb. 26, schools in Denver will no longer require students to wear masks.


Mayors of other major cities, including Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser; New York City Mayor Eric Adams; Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have yet to issue similar announcements.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said last Tuesday that the city will reconsider its vaccination mandates once there are fewer than 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day, according to MassLive.


Statewide Cancellations

But some governors are taking a statewide approach to ending emergency orders.

Last Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that school children and staff would no longer be required to wear masks, from March 7, after extending the order in January. Also last Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that state residents will no longer have to mask up indoors starting next week. The governors of New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Oregon and Delaware have drawn up similar plans to rescind mask mandates.

Phil Murphy, then-Democratic Party candidate for governor of New Jersey, arrives to vote in Middletown, New Jersey, November 7, 2017.

Phil Murphy, then-Democratic Party candidate for governor of New Jersey, arrives to vote in Middletown, New Jersey, November 7, 2017.

Badger noted that while he’s not sure former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “could have put [Florida Gov. Ron] No more DeSantis policies enforced in New York than Governor DeSantis could have enforced Cuomo’s policies in Florida,” he thinks the states’ independent experiences speak for themselves.

“If the various assertions about masks and distancing and lockdowns and everything else had produced demonstrably different results in the states where they were tried, we could argue that having a one-size-fits-all approach would have been better. But experience was quite different,” he said. “And I think that’s why you’re starting to see that even governors who have been very supportive of restrictions and put enforced restrictions in place are quickly backing out of it.”


Same levels of infection

Most leaders reversing the mandates tout falling COVID-19 case counts and high vaccination rates, but Badger says other states that never had those mandates in the first place have seen spikes and drops. Similar infection and hospitalization declines over the past two years after the initial outbreak in spring 2020.

“Communities, states and cities that had mandates and various restrictions in place experienced the same levels of COVID infection and hospitalizations as states, counties and municipalities that did not have these in place. restrictions,” Badger explained.

“And that’s not just true in the United States. You can look at Israel, Denmark, the United Kingdom, France, Spain – all the countries with higher vaccination rates than the United States and more sweeping restrictions in place nationally than the United States, and they ended up with higher infection rates on a population-adjusted basis than the United States.”

A child wears a face mask on the first day of New York Schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Brooklyn, New York on September 13, 2021.

A child wears a face mask on the first day of New York Schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Brooklyn, New York on September 13, 2021.

A recent study published by Johns Hopkins University indicates that pandemic restrictions like lockdowns and non-pharmaceutical interventions like mask mandates had “little or no effect on COVID-19 mortality.”

Additionally, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in January that cloth masks, commonly worn by many Americans, provide the lower degree of protection. the Mayo Clinic said in late December that patients and visitors could no longer wear just a cloth mask and must have a medical-grade face covering. Although they recognized that some cloth masks could provide sufficient protection, many commonly worn types did not.

Meanwhile, the CDC is the only health agency in the world to recommend masks for 2-year-olds.


Badger pointed to the politicization of the virus as the reason state and local leaders are just beginning to lift restrictions, noting that 70% of Americans want to come to terms with COVID-19 and get on with their lives, according to a Monmouth University poll published on January 31.

“When you politicize things and start saying this is a pandemic of unvaccinated people and unvaccinated people are pushing sick patients out of hospital beds, you’re not persuading unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. That’s pretty clear,” Badger said. “But you’re deepening the divisions, the grudge and the skepticism about what public health authorities are advising people to do.”

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.


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