States follow local Covid-19 signs in dropmask mandates
States follow local Covid-19 signs in dropmask mandates

States follow local Covid-19 signs in dropmask mandates

states rolling mesh mandates back rely on their own assessment of the path of the pandemic, not just federal government researchers, as they reconsider Covid-19 guidelines with the Omicron wave in retreat.

“I feel now is the right time to move on,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, said Thursday as he announced the end of the state’s masked mandate for indoor public spaces. Businesses, organizations and school districts can adopt their own policies, he said.

The governor quoted rapidly declining cases and hospitalization rates as well as declining virus levels found in wastewater. A spokeswoman said the state did not rely on specific thresholds. Mr. Sisolak also said the wider availability of Covid-19 vaccines, testing and treatment influenced his decision. The governor said he plans to continue wearing a mask in some situations, including when visiting his mother, to protect other Nevadaers.

Nevada and other states that casual guidelines this week do not rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for when people should wear masks in indoor public places. These guidelines are linked to one of two measurements: a seven-day moving average of cases over 50 per. 100,000 inhabitants, or a high percentage of tests that return positive. With Omicron-driven cases still at high levels, more than 99% of U.S. counties meet measurements, after which the CDC advises indoor public masking.

The CDC has said it is reconsidering its guidance. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that such decisions are often made at the state and community level, but that the agency still recommends masking in areas with significant and high transmission.

“We have always said that these decisions need to be made at the local level and that policies at the local level will look at local cases. They will look at how local hospitals are doing, they will look at local vaccination rates,” said Dr. Walensky .

A Duane Reade store in Manhattan, NY, still required masks for access this week.


Photo:

Gina M Randazzo / Zuma Press

The fact that one smaller percentage of Omicron cases has led to serious results compared to the Delta wave has led to calls to use measurements other than cases, as admissionsvisits to the emergency department or wastewater to help guide virus mitigation policies.

“Individual cases are important, but they do not tell the whole story,” said Janet Hamilton, executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. Covid-19 vaccinations have also meant that several cases during this increase are milder, and the boom in rapid home testing has led to a even further underreporting of casesshe said.

Some public health experts say states should proceed cautiously or wait to withdraw measures for fear of delaying the recovery of the Omicron wave. While the number of new cases and hospitalizations has dropped, the United States still adds about 186,000 cases every day, data from Johns Hopkins shows. The deaths average about 2,400 a day.

“I’m not saying we should reach zero,” said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. “I think it’s worth it to have things under control, regardless of your metrics.”

Meanwhile, Oregon, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts, in addition to Nevada, announced plans, with effect from various dates, to repeal state-wide mandates requiring masks in schools. New York, California, and Illinois revoked, or said they would terminate, mandates for indoor masks.

The states represent about a third of the U.S. population and maintained safeguards through the worst of the recent Omicron wave. Most, in addition to Nevada, have vaccination rates above the national level of 64.3% for individuals who have received two mRNA shots or a single-dose inoculation. More than 35 states has no masking requirements, according to the National Academy of State Health Policy. Some, largely Republican-led states, do not allow local officials or school districts to impose such measures.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the state’s Covid figures were heading in the right direction.


Photo:

Bruce Cotler / Zuma Press

The requirements for the dial mask in the states said to a large extent that the movements were driven by a number of positive signs. New York mentioned drop in cases, number of positive tests, admissions, cases per. 100,000 people and hospitalizations. The state also cited rising levels of vaccines and boosters and hospital capacity. New York’s seven-day average for new cases has fallen 93% from its Omicron peak, data from Johns Hopkins University shows, while the average for confirmed and suspected Covid-19 admissions has fallen about 59% according to federal data.

“We are not done, but it is heading in a very, very good direction,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.

New York’s school mask mandate is still in place, and some state lawmakers and school leaders are urging the state to use specific metrics when changing this policy. Ms. Hochul said the state would assess the school mask policy in early March based on a range of data, including global trends and pediatric hospital admissions.

Massachusetts officials cited a number of positive trends as the basis for their decision to repeal a nationwide school mask mandate in late February. Among other indicators, the state has one of the country’s highest childhood vaccination rates, state officials said.

Boston will keep its mask mandate in place after Feb. 28, Mayor Michelle Wu said Thursday. Before removing this requirement, the Boston Public Health Commission is waiting to reach benchmarks, including: less than 95% occupancy of hospital-intensive beds; fewer than 200 Covid-19 admissions per day; and a seven-day average showing that community positivity on Covid-19 tests is below 5%.

“In addition, there must be several weeks of downward trends,” to consider lifting the mandate, Ms. Wu said.

Oregon plans to remove its indoor public mask requirements by March 31, according to the state health authority, because researchers estimate there would be 400 or fewer Covid-19 admissions in the state by that time. There are still more than 900 inpatients with Covid-19 in the state, and more than nine out of 10 intensive care units and beds are occupied, burdening medical staff.

“If we can maintain our vigilance over the next two months, we can all look forward to a spring and summer season in Oregon free from the daily effects of the pandemic,” said Dean Sidelinger, health officer and state epidemiologist for the Oregon Public Health Division.

Write to Brianna Abbott at [email protected] and Jon Kamp at [email protected]

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