Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel bowser announced Tuesday that she will relax Washington’s mandate to remove masks.
Some indoor spaces, including those used by residents and visitors, will no longer be permitted to wear masks from Monday November 22. Public schools, government buildings, and public transport are notable exceptions.
These are details about where masks will be required for D.C. pic.twitter.com/agM5MJEYtn
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) November 16, 2021
Bowser said that the “encouragement” of vaccinations now being offered is encouraging, and some were encouraged by mandates. The Washington Post. “There may even be an increase in cases…but what we haven’t seen is an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. This is what vaccination promises.
Bowser had previously removed the mandate for masks, but brought it back when the number of COVID-19-related cases increased in July. Bowser did not give any details as to the metrics that would determine the time to lift the mandate, unlike the local officials, such as in Montgomery County in Maryland. While the Delta wave led to an increase of COVID-19 patients in Washington, it did not have any effect on D.C.’s mortality rate. Since the delta was a major issue, D.C.’s 7-day average death rate has been at or near one since then. It was at its highest on May 24, 2021.
Since all the masks did not stop cases increasing, it would be difficult to claim that the mask mandate prevented delta deaths. Widespread vaccination—which dramatically reduces severe disease and death—is the public health initiative that’s working well, not the mask mandate.
Bowser’s administration was firm on mask mandates being used as a tool to combat pandemics. They even prioritized them in certain cases over vaccines. D.C. gyms asked the city to permit them to ask for customers being vaccinated instead of masked. However, officials from city health said no.
Bowser’s decision to maintain the schools mask mandate is another example of incoherent government thinking regarding COVID-19. While many school-aged children remain unvaccinated, they are at very low risk of a negative coronavirus health outcome—whether they are vaccinated or not. The risk of COVID-19 is greater for older Americans than it is for children. It makes no sense to tie the removal of mandated masks to vaccination levels among people congregating in one location.
COVID-19, which is an epidemic in the United States, is now widely accepted and acknowledged. People can significantly reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19 by being vaccinated and getting booster shots. It’s not up to the government to decide the appropriate level of risk each American is at. Bowser, local officials shouldn’t be allowed to impose new mask mandates because it feels good.