Skyrocketing COVID-19 Cases Resumes US Debate Over Mask Mandates

Officials across the United States are weighing again how and whether to introduce mask requirements as COVID-19 cases skyrocket and the American public becomes increasingly tired of the pandemic’s restrictions.

Much of the debate has centered around national schools, some of which have closed due to staffing problems associated with the infection. In many places, mask mandates are being canceled or canceled.

The change comes when the federal government evaluates the supply of medical respirators such as N95 or KN95 masks. During a briefing on Wednesday, White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zientes said officials are “strongly considering providing better quality masks to all Americans,” noting that the government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks.

“The best mask is one that you wear and that you can wear all day, that you can wear in public areas,” said Dr. Rochelle Walenski, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials in the Wyoming capital voted Monday to end the mask mandate for students and teachers, which has been in effect since September. The Cheyenne School District also lowered its COVID-19 isolation requirements, voting that only people with symptoms and positive tests, not just those who were exposed, should stay at home for five days and mask for five days after. this.

The University of Missouri board on Tuesday rejected a request from the president of the university system to temporarily require masks on the Columbia University campus, as well as a mandate related to classrooms and laboratories.

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A student council meeting was canceled Monday in Wichita, Kansas, after three new members refused to wear masks at their swearing-in ceremony. In the Topeka area, meanwhile, elected officials rejected a call for mandatory mask wearing, urging people to be careful but saying they were not prepared for such a demand.

Some jurisdictions are adopting stricter camouflage policies on their own, including requiring better quality mask materials.

Last week, the University of Arizona announced that indoors, where social distancing is not possible, a medical mask will be required. On its website, the school said it no longer deems cloth masks to be suitable, although a cloth mask can be worn over a medical mask for better fit and increased protection.

On Wednesday in New Orleans ahead of the Mardi Gras season, a new mandate for the use of closed-to-face masks comes into effect. The number of daily coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Louisiana has increased sevenfold in three weeks, according to the city’s health director, Dr. Jennifer Aveno.

On Tuesday, health officials in Omaha, Nebraska, announced a temporary mandate to wear masks, but the state threatened to sue if the rule was implemented as planned. Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen said most councilors supported the move.

“I didn’t make this decision lightly. It was not an easy decision at all, and I know it will set off a wave, ”said Lindsay Hughes, Douglas County Director of Health. “But this is the tool that we have in our toolbox. We have research, evidence showing that masks reduce transmission. ”

Other places were hesitant to return claims that ended a few months ago. In Michigan, where state officials have said record high rates of COVID-19 incidence and hospitalizations could peak in late January or early February and then begin to decline, health officials remain reluctant to reinstate mask-wearing restrictions or regulations. They continue to plead with people to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear suitable masks in public, and avoid large gatherings.

Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, recommended that people wear an N95 mask or two suitable face covers. The parent group has called for school mask requirements that apply in most individual districts, but not at the state level.

In Utah, as lawmakers prepared to start a rally within a year, GOP Gov. Spencer Cox freed the Capitol and other government agencies from the municipal mandate to mask. Jenny Wilson, Democrat Mayor of Salt Lake City, said the governor has no authority to make exceptions to policies that require N95 and KN95 masks or similar masks to be worn for a month indoors, including at schools.

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