Even some of the most liberal states across the country are rolling back restrictions to do with the Wuhan coronavirus, especially as it pertains to mask mandates. As Katie pointed out, though, this is surely to do with what the polls are telling Democratic politicians. Yet not all are willing to accept what many of us have known for months now when it comes to the importance of freedom when it comes to masking.
Some of the states might surprise you. As mentioned above, they really are the most liberal states, with New Jersey ending its mask mandate in schools, along with Oregon, Delaware, and Connecticut. There are also states which are going with what we might call a mixed bag.
California is easing indoor mask mandates, and school mask mandates might be coming. While New York is easing indoor mask mandates as well, Gov. Kathy Hochul went in the opposite direction for schools, as she is expected to renew mask mandates for school after they are set to expire on February 21. Gov. JB Pritzker made a similar move in Illinois, in that he's ending indoor mask mandates but not in schools. As I covered last week, his administration is appealing a temporary restraining order issued by a judge when it comes to COVID restrictions for schools, including to do with masks.
Republicans are very much willing to make it a political issue for those Democrats not yet ready to get on board.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, a congressman who represents New York's 1st district and is the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, issued a statement on Tuesday about how this move could affect Hochul's political future if she is Zeldin's opponent come November.
"Even when the rest of her fellow blue state control freaks roll back their statewide mask mandates, Kathy Hochul’s ego and lust for power and control is just too strong. These kids are wearing cloth masks that the CDC recommends against wearing and, quite frankly, if Hochul suggests an N-95 on these kids next then she is just a sociopath," Zeldin said. "COVID numbers are plummeting, from a variant for the most part causing much milder reactions, especially in children. Our children have suffered enough and they always have been at the lowest risk by far of experiencing a serious reaction due to COVID. It’s clear that the only way Kathy Hochul is going to give up her emperor’s control is when we fire her at the ballot box on November 8th."
Jerry Evans, who is running as a Republican to represent Illinois' 11th district, had called on the governor to make that temporary restraining order permanent. He expressed further frustration at the lack of progress on masks in school. "That Governor Pritzker is leaving the mask mandate in place in our schools is just beyond comprehension. It’s anti-science, harms children, and it is just another example of far left politicians trying to make decisions that parents should be making." He said. "It’s time for our elected officials to respect the rights of parents and stop subjecting our children to these overreaching mandates."
Virginia, which has frequently been in the news for mask mandates and the authority to dictate them, may soon be included in the list of states doing away with mask mandates.
Upon taking office on January 15, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order to fulfill a campaign promise that empowers parents to decide if their children will wear masks to school. While judges have ruled against the executive order, a bill passed the State Senate with bipartisan support that included an amendment from State Sen. Chap Peterson, a moderate Democrat, that empowers parents on masking.
In the last week, we have seen Democrat-led states like Oregon, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware move away from universal mask mandates in schools. I am pleased that there is bipartisan support for doing the same in Virginia.— Governor Glenn Youngkin (@GovernorVA) February 8, 2022
This shows that when we work across the aisle, we put Virginians first. I look forward to signing this bill when it comes to my desk.— Governor Glenn Youngkin (@GovernorVA) February 8, 2022
There's pressure from groups as well, including the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).
"While deep blue states like President Biden’s home state of Delaware are lifting their mask mandates, children in other blue states are still forced to participate in the pointless political theatre and wear a mask," said RSLC National Press Secretary Stephanie Rivera. "Nevada, New Mexico and Washington Democrats in the legislature should be pushing back against their governor’s unnecessary mask mandates that are rooted in politics, not facts. If other blue state strongholds are starting to remove their mask mandates, why are they refusing to follow their lead and still siding with Joe Biden?"
The Biden Administration is culpable for the consequences of forcing kids to mask for 8 hours a day: Speech delays, Lower reading comprehension, Social isolation, Depression, and more.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 7, 2022
The CDC must follow the science. Rescind the mandates. Give children their childhoods back.
Speaking of Joe Biden, the president and Democrats are facing pressure at the national level as well, though they're still encumbered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and teachers unions.
"Right now our CDC guidance has not changed," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a Tuesday interview with Reuters. "We continue to endorse universal masking in schools."
In Iowa, @IAGovernor has worked to ensure parents can send their kids to school in person & decide if they want their kids to wear a mask at school.— Ashley Hinson (@RepAshleyHinson) February 8, 2022
But that's not the case across the country. My Unmask Our Kids Act will empower parents to make decisions that impact their kids. pic.twitter.com/Q94Jsj9vdo
Congressional Democrats and President Biden had the chance to signal support for lifting mask mandates at the federal level through the Unmask Our Kids Act, introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA). The legislation would require that schools cannot enact wide-reaching mask mandates and have to have an in-person learning option in order to receive federal education dollars.
She noted that in her state of Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has left the decision of whether children should wear masks to school up to parents.
"At the heart of this issue," Hinson shared during her remarks on the House floor, was how "parents should be empowered to make the choices that impact their children’s physical and mental health, their development, and their future." She also spoke not just of the parents, but the children themselves. "Our kids deserve normalcy. They deserve a chance to learn in-person and to play with their friends at recess," she said. "This is about giving school-aged kids, who have endured so much over the last two years, a chance to finally just be kids."
The bill ultimately failed when 221 House Democrats voted against it.