D.C. Ends Brief Experiment With Letting People Make Their Own Choices About Masks

Muriel Bowser (D.C. Mayor) must have been able to get her holiday parties over with early. Today’s mayor made it clear at a press conference that Tuesday at 6 AM, the District will reimpose its mask requirement for indoor public areas.

Bowser’s third attempt to require masks in public places is this. The mayor has just rescinded the previous mandate to mask public spaces, which was imposed late in the summer in response to a spike in COVID-19-related cases.

“This does not mean that everyone needs to stop wearing their mask,” Bowser said at the November press conference announcing that mandate’s repeal. This does not mean the government is changing its response to provide you with this risk-based info.

Given the increase in cases and spread of the omicron variant, it seems that providing information to people and allowing them make their own decisions is no longer an option.

We’re tired of it all. Bowser said that she was tired of the same thing at today’s press conference. However, Bowser stated that “we must respond to what is happening in our community and in our country.”

Bowser replied no to questions about whether D.C. might consider granting an exemption for gyms like neighboring Virginia when its mask mandate was in force.

D.C. was one of few liberal large cities that had neither an indoor-mask mandate or vaccine requirements for private sector workers prior to today’s announcement.

The District government, however, only required masks to be worn in schools and some buildings of government, as well as public transportation, rideshare, and transit vehicles. Everybody was required to get vaccinated, including city workers, teachers, nurses, athletes and students as well as staff members and visitors who frequently visit schools.

This earned it some of my qualified praise (and undeserved) as an island in relative pandemic sanity. I’m sorry.

The new mask requirement means District drinkers and diners will be able to look forward to their familiar routine of wearing a mask from the moment they enter a restaurant or bar to the time they sit at the table. This will protect us from the omicron.

D.C. was expecting a rise in COVID-19 deaths due to the Delta variant when it imposed its last mask mandate on July 20, 2021. The city reported no increase in deaths from COVID-19 despite the surge.

WTOP has found that the current number of cases in D.C. exceeds the peak for the surge. According to WTOP data, the number of COVID-19-infected people in D.C. is approximately the same level as at the peak in September 2021. It continues to see an average of one COVID-19 fatality per day in the city.

Today’s mayor presentation includes data that shows that even though there was a surge in cases of delta, the COVID-19 incidence rate remained low among fully-vaccinated people.

This is more proof that vaccinations can be a great way to protect yourself from COVID-19 infections. In D.C., vaccines and booster shots can be obtained for free. Approximately 65 percent of the residents are fully vaccinated.

D.C. companies were free to use masks as long as they wanted, and employees could wear them in the workplace if necessary.

Bowser, however, is mandating a less efficient public health intervention to help people who have already protected themselves against COVID-19, or chose not to.

Mayor also stated that free quick tests would be offered at selected locations in the city. City employees, grantees and interns must be fully vaccinated.

The new mandate for masks will expire January 31. Let’s see if it happens.