The dangers of lifting the mask mandate

Lily Baker, Contributing Writer

Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi announced that they are lifting their state’s mask mandates, going against numerous warnings from health officials. Both governors reasoned their announcements with the fact that businesses are struggling, however, by ignoring health officials and the persistent presence of COVID-19, they are ultimately harming their citizens.

 The effects of the lift of the mask mandate were rapidly apparent. “Mask required” signs were taken down, citizens walked around outside and inside mask-less and U.S. President Joe Biden also spoke on the matter. Biden described these actions similar to that of a “Neanderthal.” This raises the question: how could these governors decide to take away one of the most effective ways of preventing infection?

While vaccinations are being distributed at an impressive rate nationwide, some states are still experiencing limited supplies and many people are still deeply affected by this virus. This removal of mask requirements is worrying many public health officials that the spread of the virus will accelerate once again. Even though the vaccine would normally offer hope, this does not mean we can loosen our awareness and guidelines. This pandemic won’t truly end until we all work together to actually end it. By lifting the mask mandate, Texas and Mississippi are slowing down the process of ending this horrible pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci also addressed this lifting of the mask mandate as “ill-advised.” The nation’s top infectious-disease expert is advising against this policy change, yet governors still dismiss his and many other expert opinions. For instance, Abbott released on Twitter that his state would be operating at 100 percent normalcy. Abbott backs up his claims with his belief that Texans have mastered the art of avoiding the pandemic, absurdly putting Texans and the whole country at risk of his ignorance. Texans and Mississippians living in these less cautious environments can drive or even fly to other parts of the country, exposing states who still have a mask mandate.

The Texas and Mississippi governors saw their decline in cases and their struggling businesses as the reason for lifting the mask mandate. Cases rise and fall, but a decline does not mean that low cases will stay that way. We have seen alarming spikes happen within just a few days, and it can happen again. Additionally, governors from other states are being influenced by Abbott and Reeves’ ways by considering lifting the mask mandate as well. If just two states lift the mask mandate, then two more will follow their lead, and it could turn into an unsafe and deadly cycle. The majority of states still require masks and operate under guidelines; however, it is better to acknowledge the mistake these few states are making before it gets out of hand.

Returning to normalcy is everyone’s goal. The end is in sight, but still remains far away. COVID-19 remains a threat to the country and everyone needs to continue to be held accountable. Even after a person is vaccinated, they should still take some precautionary measures, because there isn’t enough data to show that it can fully protect you from all variants of COVID-19 or if you are still able to spread it to others. While the vaccine does provide some hope, it is essential to continue to wear a mask and take precautions because this will not go away overnight and we will only reach normalcy with everyone’s efforts.

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