Maryland and New Jersey governors defended their moves to ease Covid restrictions, saying on Sunday that declining coronavirus cases in their states warranted a change, even as new cases and deaths remain free in some regions of the United States. high.
“As far as we can see now, this is moving from pandemic to endemic, and we feel it’s the responsible step to take” to empower local school districts and municipalities to make their own decisions, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said. on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He is one of several Democratic governors who last week announced plans to lift statewide mask mandates, whether they applied to schools or generally, as the United States begins to emerge from the Omicron wave.
His optimistic tone echoed that of Governor Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, who has appealed to his state’s Education Board to lift the mandate from his school mask. Mr. Hogan abolished mandatory state masking in Maryland last May, but the schools are run independently. “I think it’s safe enough for our kids to just try to get back to normal,” Mr Hogan said on DailyExpertNews’s “State of the Union.”
Several states’ move to lift restrictions comes after a new CBS poll found that a majority of Americans still support mask mandates, including in schools, but many are exhausted and frustrated by a pandemic that is in its third year. enters.
Within schools, public health experts agree that mask requirements shouldn’t last forever, but differ about whether it’s time to remove them.
According to many health experts, the next stage of the virus in the United States may depend on what new potential variants emerge, vaccination coverage and risk tolerance. Herd immunity to Covid, public health specialists say, is unlikely to be achieved. And scientists have warned that protections may diminish over time, and future variants may be better able to circumvent our defenses.
Still, known coronavirus infections are falling across the country, although cases nationwide have not returned to pre-Omicron levels and remain high in states like Alaska, Mississippi and West Virginia. Hospital admissions and deaths are also decreasing, but still high.
This week, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, her agency’s stance that masks should not be removed when gathering indoors. “We’re not there yet,” she said at a White House briefing on Wednesday.
As the number of cases falls and restrictions are lifted, said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said he thought the country seemed to be shifting from a period of collective action to protect vulnerable groups to one where individuals must protect themselves. based on their own risk assessments.
“I think there are parts of the population that will be in a very difficult position right now because they remain vulnerable,” said Dr. Gottlieb on “Face the Nation.”
Young children, he said, are one of those groups, citing the FDA’s announcement on Friday to delay its decision on whether to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children under 5 until more data is available. become available. Studies so far have shown that two doses are not enough to protect children ages 2 to 4, although the company expects data on the efficacy of a third dose in April.
dr. Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer’s board, said the latest delay, which affects nearly 18 million children and their families, was frustrating. But he said the FDA’s decision was wise. By waiting, “they have a very clear idea of the level of effectiveness the vaccine offers,” he said. “That’s important for patients and pediatricians to make fully informed decisions.”