December 17, 2021

Mask Mandates

“A mask mandate for shops and other indoor spaces in New York state took effect Monday as officials confront a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that masks would be required in all indoor public places unless the businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. The rule will last at least until Jan. 15, and enforcement is in the hands of local counties.” AP News

“California is bringing back a rule requiring people to wear masks indoors… Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration announced the new mandate will start Wednesday and last until Jan. 15.” AP News

Many on all sides urge government officials to carefully consider the costs and benefits of Covid mitigation strategies:

“Most people say they are still planning to travel to see family and friends for the holidays and they consider those activities to be a small or moderate risk. Sporting events, concerts, and other large gatherings are happening every day. Just nine states currently have any kind of mask mandate in place. A return to more drastic lockdown measures appears to be off the table — and some experts think they would be inappropriate now because those policies can have their own negative effects and because vaccines are widely available… Nearly two years into the pandemic, a lot of people are simply burnt out.”
Dylan Scott, Vox

“This is the next stage of COVID: an endemic, mutating virus that will be around for many more years with intermittent flare-ups. With that revelation should come legislators’ widespread recognition that you cannot, by executive fiat or by cringeworthy public service announcement ad spot, by carrot or by stick, force every American to do the exact thing you want…

“You can instead arm them with information, allow them to make their own choices and recognize that public health-related asks must be rare and specific if you want decent compliance; a perpetual state of emergency, wherein you ask the population to sacrifice school, work and social gatherings for years on end just won’t yield desired results.”
Liz Wolfe, New York Post

“Many Democrats, both voters and politicians, have been almost blasé about the costs of Covid precautions — the isolation, unhappiness, health damage, lost learning, inflation, public-transit disruptions and more. Democrats have sometimes focused on minimizing the spread of Covid, regardless of the downsides: Closing schools, for example, almost certainly harms children more than it protects them, given the minuscule rate of severe childhood Covid, even lower than that of severe childhood flu…

“The current Covid surge has led to a modest rise in hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated and a much sharper rise among the unvaccinated. This surge justifies an increase in masking, testing and some other measures. But it’s worth remembering that the point of those measures is to maximize people’s health and well-being. And maximizing health and well-being is not the same thing as minimizing Covid.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

We have to return to a normal risk assessment of COVID-19 and allow individuals to make their own choices about their health. The vaccines have been widely available to almost every age group for months. While breakthrough cases do occur, they are almost never serious. The bad cases of COVID-19 are almost entirely among the unvaccinated, but even then, there are effective treatments, such as Pfizer’s COVID pill, that greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. Simply put, this is not a crisis anymore, and it hasn’t been for some time.”
Kaylee McGhee White, Washington Examiner

“The point isn’t that the danger of COVID is so small that people can go maskless. Rather, the point is that COVID is so dangerous that masking doesn’t provide much benefit—and cotton masks seem to provide no benefit at all… policymakers should focus on promoting practices that are effective: vaccination, improved ventilation, and discouraging crowding in enclosed areas. Masking policies may have made sense in the early days of the pandemic, when initial evidence suggested masks could be helpful and when vaccines were unavailable and reconfiguring public spaces and ventilation were impractical on short notice, but we have much better options now.”
Thomas A. Firey, The Dispatch

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