How long will the Covid-19 masking rules last? – Community News
Covid-19

How long will the Covid-19 masking rules last?

On the one hand, we’ve seen this movie before. Covid-19 cases and deaths are declining, but the same was true last spring before the Delta variant ripped across the country. Is it time to roll back restrictions or is it now risking a resurgence in winter?

On the other hand, we are completely in a new place. Children aged 5-11 can be vaccinated. Adults and older children have had access to the vaccines for months.

We now know so much more about when and where masks are needed: in crowded indoor spaces. But we also don’t know when a new variant could flare up.

“We are in a downtrend. We want to continue a downtrend,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday. “We won’t have to wear masks forever. But for now, especially as the CDC recommends, in indoor gathering environments, where you don’t really have a good handle on who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t, under those circumstances the CDC still rightly recommends that we wear masks.”
That’s why Broadway has extended the mask requirement and the federal government has extended the requirement for mask use on public transportation until January 18. When I go to an indoor concert in Washington this week for the first time in nearly two years, I’ll have to flash a picture of my vaccination card and mask myself.
Those requirements vary from city to city and venue to venue, but larger concert organizers and major bands require vaccination certificates for indoor and outdoor shows. For sports arenas, it’s a different story.
Support for mask requirements is declining. Two-thirds of Americans strongly or somewhat supported governments demanding masking in all public places in an Axios/Ipsos poll conducted in late August, with 45% strongly in favor. Only about a third were strongly in favor in the same poll in early November, and a combined 60% were strong or somewhat positive.
Demand less by far. But that support is not being followed up by state governments, according to data collected Nov. 2 by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Only Oregon still has a statewide mask requirement.
  • Five states have indoor mask requirements only.
  • Four states, including California and New York, have mask requirements for unvaccinated people.
  • 41 states have no state-level rules.
Encouraging masks, but keeping options open. Many retailers still require masks for employees and encourage them to stay indoors for customers, but don’t necessarily need them. AARP has a list of policies with the largest retailers in the country.
RELATED: Masks and Vaccines Are a Must This Holiday Season, CDC Says

Masks are an increasingly local decision, even in schools. Eighteen states have statewide mask requirements for schools, according to Kaiser, but most major school districts still require masks for students. Many cities still have requirements, especially for people indoors, and many school districts still require masks.

Perrysburg School Superintendent Thomas Hosler told CNN of his decision to lift the mask requirement; he is one of 65% of Ohio school districts to drop the rules as Covid-19 cases have fallen.

“Whatever decision we make, there will be a loud vocal response against it,” Hosler said. “It’s kind of liberating in a way because we’re going to go ahead and make the best decision for kids to keep them safe.”

An increasing number of school districts are making this decision, although guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not changed. The government agency still recommends that everyone — students, staff, teachers and visitors to K-12 schools — wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

CNN’s Jen Christensen looked at school records across the country. Here are snippets of that analysis (the words in bold are mine):

Where masks are still a thing. Masks are still required in states such as Illinois, California, New York and Washington. Washington state even promised to withhold money from districts that do not follow the rules. In those and many other states, parents have staged massive protests and sued districts over mask mandates, forcing school leaders to make difficult choices about how best to protect children.

Where masks are optional. Some, but not all, schools in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio have made masks optional in schools, often citing declines in Covid-19 cases. In Texas, schools aren’t even allowed to require masks, although some districts, including Dallas, have ignored the state and kept the mandates. A federal investigation is underway to determine whether the ban on mask mandates in Texas violates the rights of students with disabilities.

Masks work. CNN’s Rob Picheta wrote: The science behind masks is pretty clear and has only gotten more robust over the course of the pandemic. Studies have shown that masks significantly reduce the chance of transmitting the coronavirus, and some types of masks can help prevent their wearers from contracting the virus.
We don’t really know what will happen to the virus, and that means masks can definitely return. France returned to school wearing masks for much younger children this week as cases increased there. According to the media site, masks are still mandatory in secondary schools France 24.
It’s the opposite in England, where the government has left the masking to personal choice and accepted higher cases of Covid-19.