States Lift Covid Mask Mandate

Five US states have or soon will have lifted the mandatory mask mandate.

Chloe Clendenin, Author

As the US is approaching the one-year anniversary of the original Covid lockdown, the Covid virus still remains, however, some states are dropping government required mask mandates. To date, 11 states haven’t required masks up to this point; that list includes Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Despite Covid still being a highly transmittable disease and not having vaccines widely accessible, there are five states that are planning to join the 11 mask-free states by lifting mask restrictions state-wide. Those states ending mask mandates include Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota. 

Texas and Mississippi have announced that they’re dropping mask requirements along with opening businesses and restaurants to 100% capacity. Despite going against President Joe Biden’s wishes and the CDC’s recommended requirements, the two states are opening 100% and lifted their mask mandate. The governors of both states claimed hospitalization due to Covid has drastically dropped but according to The Covid Tracking Project’s seven-day average, Covid cases have reached nearly 32,000 in February and averaged 297 deaths daily. 

In Texas, the Covid vaccine is available to all school and child care workers, along with people 65 and older, and people 16 and older with health conditions that increase their risk of Covid illnesses. That being said, only about 7% of Texas’s citizens have been fully vaccinated. Many Texans are worried about lifting the mask mandate with the fear of another Covid outbreak and numbers drastically rising. 

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas stated, “Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%”

While the Governor claims the state is open 100% and that the mask mandate has been lifted, many cities and businesses in Texas are still requiring masks including, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, and San Antonio. Retailers, grocery stores, pharmacies, and businesses that still require employees and customers to wear masks include Target, CVS, Kroger, Best Buy, Walgreens, Macy’s, JCPenny, Toyota, and GM. President also made it mandatory to wear masks on federal property as well as public transportation. 

On Monday, the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, stated, “People are still getting infected and individuals are still dying because of the virus. Today the city of Houston’s positivity rate is 13.1%, which is up from last week. So instead of going down, it’s kind of creeping right back up.” 

The Covid vaccine isn’t widely available for everyone to get it yet, which should mean the mask mandate sticks around a little longer until states can completely control the Covid pandemic. Once Iowa, North Dakota, and Montana lift their required state-wide mask mandate, there will be 16/50 states in the US that don’t require masks. It is expected to see a rise in Covid numbers in those states along with a demand for the vaccine. With warm weather and summer break approaching in the near future, it is expected to see fewer and fewer mask wearers in public, not just in the 16 states that don’t require masks. It is still important to remember that Covid still exists, so wear your mask and practice safe social distancing measures along with consistently washing your hands.