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It Was Always About the Politics

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool

What do Gavin Newsom, Phil Murphy, and Tom Wolf have in common, aside from the fact that they are very liberal governors of very liberal states, each of whom has governed in the era of COVID as a pro-lockdown fanatic? Well, each of them has recently announced significant rollbacks of indoor masking requirements – and in doing so, they have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that when it comes to COVID masking mandates, it was never about the science, it was always about the politics.  


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf got the ball rolling last year, when he announced a reversal to his state’s school mask mandate and said that beginning in January, local school officials would make decisions on masking. 

A week after that policy went into effect, Pennsylvania’s neighboring governor, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, got into the act. On Monday, he announced an end to the Garden State’s mask mandate for schools, saying students and employees would no longer be required to wear masks. That new policy will take effect March 7. 

Within hours of Murphy’s announcement, Democrat Governors Gavin Newsom in California, Ned Lamont in Connecticut, John Carney in Delaware, and Kate Brown in Oregon issued directives removing mask mandates in their states. Californians will drop their masks next week, while Connecticut students and school staff will be able to breathe easier no later than February 28. Delaware and Oregon will terminate their mask mandates by March 31. 

So, what new science took place on Monday morning? What event occurred that was so earth-shattering that news of it was instantaneously broadcast from coast to coast, in such a short time and such an overpowering fashion that the leading government officials of states literally from east coast to west could all analyze it and come to new policy conclusions – which, by the way, all (coincidentally? I think not) mirror each other – in just a matter of moments? 


Nothing. Nothing at all of note happened on the COVID scientific research front Monday. Or the day before. Or the week before. Or the month before. 

If the science has not changed, then why has the policy changed? After all, these are the people who condescendingly admonished the rest of us to “follow the science.” It wasn’t the science that changed. It was the politics of COVID that changed. 

In Georgia, Democrat gubernatorial wannabe Stacey Abrams was photographed unmasked against a sea of masked school children (who surely were wondering why was this strange woman sitting there in front of them without wearing a mask?). That photograph is already being used against her in her campaign for governor, and it will be used against her all the way to the November election. 

In California, Newsom was photographed unmasked while horsing around with (also unmasked) NBA legend Magic Johnson at last weekend’s NFC championship game in Los Angeles.  

Wolf, to my knowledge, has never been caught without a mask. But that does not mean his decision to reverse himself is any less political than the decisions by Newsom and the other Democrat governors. The key to understanding Wolf’s determination to reverse his state’s mask mandate can be found in its date: He made the announcement on Monday, November 8, just six days after the elections in Virginia and New Jersey revealed just how strong the longing for an end to lockdowns and mandates was. In New Jersey, which Biden had carried a year earlier by 16 points, Murphy won by just three points; in Virginia, which Biden had carried a year earlier by 10, victorious Republican Glenn Youngkin won by two after explicitly campaigning on promises to end lockdowns and return children to school without masks. 


And yet, even as these Democrat governors order an end to the mask mandates, they still can’t get it right. If it’s okay for them to go without a mask now, why wait another month or two for the mandates to end? Why not end them today, or tomorrow? 

Do they really believe we won’t remember what they did to our children come election time? Do they really think reversing themselves now, after two years of this madness, will cause us to forget our concern for our children and the damage these politicians have done to our children’s upbringing?  

Wolf, Newsom, Murphy, Brown, Carney, Lamont and others are politicians acting out of fear – fear of being on the wrong side of an issue that voters have demonstrated has the power to move numbers. The governors’ determination to change their policies without there having been any intervening change in the science proves that it was never about the science in the first place – it was always, always, always about the politics. 

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