As a year has passed since the pandemic started, people all over the world still continue to wear masks and follow COVID-19 prevention guidelines set by government officials. However, as time goes by and even throughout the course of the pandemic, certain people have been discontent with having to wear masks and social distance and some people have been unable to see its benefits.
As of Tuesday, March 2nd, the governors of Texas and Mississippi have lifted their Coronavirus mask mandate in their states. Both of these governors have expressed through their Twitter accounts that they believe mask mandates are no longer necessary due to the downwards trend of new cases in their states. Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated on his Twitter account that Texas was “OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING.” The case count in Texas has dropped down to around 3,600 new cases as of March 6, which is a significant decrease from its peak of around 18,300 cases earlier this year in January. Similar to Abbott, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves had said in a series of tweets that with infection rates lowering, as cases have dropped down to a 7-day average of around 461, he and his administration were “getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do.”
However, with “masks required” signs coming down, the two states have already seen the impact of this decision on their citizens. Many citizens of Texas and Mississippi feel relieved that they no longer need to worry about the Coronavirus restrictions and expressed that they feel they will have a higher chance to get employed once again, and that the removal of the mask mandate also gives a chance for small business owners to pay their bills. Other citizens of these two states have had the opposite reaction and believe that even if infection rates are going down, the mask mandates cannot be ignored and the regulations must be upheld. Owners of small businesses now have to worry about the Coronavirus being transferred in their facilities so the most they can do is to encourage personal responsibility.
However, despite some approval from citizens of the two states, many health officials were shocked by the decision because the removal of masks and regulations can create more cases and lengthen the amount of time the pandemic stays in America. “It’s kind of worrying because maybe other states will also decide to do the same thing, but hopefully, if Texas does get bad because of the release of the mandate, then other states will know that they can’t do it anytime soon,” said Toby Khang ’23, who shares the same sentiment as the health officials regarding the removal of mask mandates. These decisions do not only affect the few states that removed their mask mandate since people from these states will begin to travel to other states that still enforce mask mandates. This could extend the length of the pandemic and increase the chance of a mutation in the virus. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea because even though they need it for the economy, Covid is not going to get better and the deaths will continue to rise,” explained Khang ’23. What comes with this sudden decision to repeal mask mandates is uncertain and only time will tell what happens with the coronavirus situation in America.