California is set to phase out school masks within two weeks as cases drop by 65% and pressure is mounting for other states to follow suit as U.S. cases drop by 43%.
- California health officials plan to phase out mandatory school masks in as little as two weeks, joining a growing list of liberal-minded states to make the move.
- Despite a sharp drop in cases across much of the US, the CDC and Joe Biden have been hesitant to relax guidance on mask use.
California health officials indicate they may soon abandon the controversial policy of forcing children to wear masks in schools, joining a growing list of “blue” states emerging from the ranks of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Biden administration – both of which are up to has so far not budged, despite a sharp drop in daily Covid infections across the country.
“The disguise requirements were never set to be there forever… the question is not if. It’s just a matter of time,” said Dr. Mark Galy, secretary of the California Department of Health and Human Services.
Reports indicate that a decision could be made as early as the next two weeks. Many California school districts have a week-long February break either this week from the 14th to the 18th or next week from the 21st to the 25th. It is possible that upon returning from a break next week, these mask requirements will be lifted.
The number of Covid cases in California has dropped by 65 percent in the past few weeks, a sharp drop that much of the country has experienced over the past month. Nationwide, cases have dropped 43 percent in the last week, and the daily average of 150,714 infections is nowhere near the 800,000 cases per day reached at the peak of the Omicron surge in mid-January.
California health officials said Monday they are considering abolishing school masks in the state. In doing so, the state will join a growing list of blue states to make the move. In the photo: a girl from Hong Kong wearing a mask.
Ghali also notes that the number of hospitalizations – which are generally unreliable statistics during Omicron – and the state’s positivity rate have also declined. Vaccine use is also on the rise. These are all the ingredients for ending the Covid surge.
California has already lifted the face mask requirement for fully vaccinated residents, and that order was lifted on Tuesday.
Last week, the Golden State was part of a wave of blue states that canceled or relaxed mandates last week, in part as a concentrated effort by governors to deal with 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 ruling fear that forcing children to wear masks in schools will hurt their ability to take part in key socialization at an early age.
Children are also not at significant risk of contracting the virus compared to adults, and the CDC reports that less than 0.1 percent of Covid deaths in the US are in children.
Rising rates of children being at low risk of contracting the virus, combined with a sharp drop in cases, have increased pressure on health officials across the country to ditch masks altogether.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member of Pfizer, said last week that Americans are “exhausted” after nearly two years of the pandemic and it’s time to let them relax as the pandemic shows signs of ending.
“I don’t think it’s careless when governors lean forward expecting conditions to continue to improve, acknowledging that people are frazzled,” he said last week in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box.
“We have a narrow window of opportunity to restore the schools to normalcy.”