By Milo Mandelli-Valla
New York City, New York
As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its second anniversary with over 900,000 deaths in the United States, states that have been adamant about reinforcing mandates are now beginning to remove those policies in a push for normalcy.
States such as Connecticut and New Jersey, that have previously called for mandates on masks and vaccines, now feel comfortable dropping them as the Omicron surge subsides there. Such states join the already lengthy list of states such as Florida and Texas that have no mandate requiring masks. The list of states dropping mandates in some form is growing rapidly due to political motivation, as Americans are growing even more impatient about the pandemic, as seen in recent polling around the nation. Many of the states eliminating their mask mandates do not have complete reversals. For instance, in New York, residents are still required to wear masks on public transportation.
Masks have become a heavily politicized issue and politics have heavily influenced the way that the nation has operated throughout the pandemic, as the United States has been influenced in a variety of ways by politicians, at the federal and state levels, and even at more local levels. Proponents to removing mandates argue that while coronavirus remains rampant around the nation in certain regions, the virus is no longer of severe concern within their own states.
In Canada, for instance, citizens are protesting mandates, saying that the virus will always exist and that the nation needs to learn to live with that and move on from mandates, allowing the virus to spread without barriers for the sake of reestablishing the old normal. The government in Canada began arresting these dissenters, and such an operation seems to be teeing up in Washington, as truckers get set to protest peacefully outside of the Capitol. This idea was further echoed domestically within the United States in Super Bowl advertisements, as the article points out that the ads urged viewers to go out just like in the old normal, whether that is through traveling or attending large events such as sports games.
Politicians should be motivated to end lockdowns as the virus begins to drop off, particularly in the department of mortality, as with the increased mutations, the virus becomes less lethal. With the midterms just around the corner, governors may want to maintain their seats, and the best way to achieve that end may be to drop mandates and increase the satisfaction of their constituents.
On a federal level and within Washington, the White House is facing incredibly low approval ratings, and dropping mask mandates may be a boost to Joe Biden and his administration both in the midterms, but also long term. The future of the nation hangs in the balance over this next battleground of policy, as the decision looms over whether politicians will choose the old normal or will continue to enforce mandates.