As Texas and Florida continue to resume ordinary activities while eschewing COVID-19 restrictions, it is time to start considering if the mask mandates are still the most effective measurements to guarantee public health or otherwise.
The virus outbreak reached America last year, being an airborne disease that is highly transmissive. For such characteristics, the initially most logical solution to harness the pandemic was to prevent people from staying near each other, reducing the risk of not-yet-identified patients spreading the virus to others nearby.
Most defense policies against COVID-19 would include social distancing, public lockdowns, the closing of schools and businesses, along with mask mandates, many of which will struggle to adapt, especially in a long-term period.
Likewise, Texas and Florida both pioneered the most unexpected approach in combating the threats of COVID-19, nearly dismissing all the government-endorsed restrictions and, against all odds, have not yet encountered the commonly assumed consequences.
These states continue to prove with the rest of America that perhaps it should be a change in the conception of how to survive the lethal pandemic. A news analysis by Nicole Russell published in Post Millenial, Texas and Florida’s beyond–expectation performance suggests “continued lockdowns are unnecessary, unlawful, and perhaps were even always a farce.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, on March 2, announced his decision to reopen the state to full capacity, lifting the mask mandates in public, claiming the state has already acquired necessary medical “tools to protect Texans from the virus.”
“We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent. Please make no mistake; COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed…With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny,” the governor proclaimed.
Since then, until the beginning of this month, the number of COVID-19 infections has dropped significantly by nearly half, from 7,240 cases on March 2 to 3,807 cases on April 7.
Meanwhile, its vaccination rollout speed has been reported positively, too. While topping the other states in having seniors vaccinated, in terms of vaccination speed, it ranks about 36th in the country, according to Texas Tribune and Becker’s Hospital Review.
Governor Ron DeSantis took the bold step first. He allowed restaurants and bars in Florida to resume 100% capacity in September last year. The state’s coronavirus-infected cases, in general, have been falling downwards with several up points on the go from January until now.
Ironically, states that witness a surge in COVID-19 infections are the ones that adhere closely to the federal suggested COVID-19 protocols. Since the beginning of March, as Reason reported, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington have recorded more COVID-19 infection cases, adding even more doubt over the need to keep the restrictions in place.
“Let’s stop pretending that pandemic rules that made sense in April 2020 still make sense a year later,” wrote Yascha Mounk of The Atlantic.