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New York’s governor said on Wednesday that she was ending the state’s indoor masking rules. The governor of Massachusetts announced that face coverings would soon become optional in schools. And by day’s end, the governors of Illinois, Rhode Island and Washington said that they, too, would loosen coronavirus rules.
The moves, which came rapid fire, one after another, mean that many of the Covid-19 restrictions that have divided Americans will soon be eliminated in places where politicians have long championed sweeping virus precautions.
Of course, not everyone is happy. The Times interviews several who mourn the demise of vaccine and mask mandates:
But in California, Barbara Ferrer, the top public health official in Los Angeles County, expressed her concern to elected officials this week: “We should not be lifting the masking mandate when we are reporting thousands and thousands of new cases every day. That doesn’t make sense.”
Some would say Ms. Ferrer is drawing the wrong inference. If we have mask mandates and are still seeing hundreds of thousands of new cases per day, maybe that means mask mandates don’t work.
In many instances, governors who terminate statewide mandates are leaving decisions to counties, cities and school districts that may choose to keep them in place. But even in the bluest jurisdictions, some politicians are retreating. Thus, earlier today the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul announced that they have revoked the vaccine mandates that both imposed just a short time ago. Obviously the “science” hasn’t changed in the last few weeks, but the politics of mandates are flowing in the opposite direction.
Why the retreat from vaccine and mask mandates? There is an election coming up in November, and governors want to have some hope of being re-elected. That’s a good thing: at least periodically, politicians have to listen to their constituents. But you know who doesn’t have to worry about being re-elected? Ron DeSantis. Also Kristi Noem.
The press has tried to hoodwink us into thinking that governors who declined to impose draconian mandates, or prohibited localities from doing so, were effectively murdering citizens of their states. But if that were true, it would be the red governors–not the blue ones–who were frantically reversing course as the election season begins. Instead, we see red governors riding high amid a steady exodus of residents out of blue states and into red ones.