In hopes of finding normalcy for kids, several states are lifting mask mandates in schools. Many people are mentally exhausted of the social changes COVID-19 has evoked over the course of two years now.
“New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Delaware Gov. John Carney announced Monday that mask mandates in schools will come to an end in March” stated abc News, Mary Kekatos.
After the decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates, many states viewed this as an opportunity to lift the mask mandate that has proven to effectively deter the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
The Head Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky advised the public that the CDC does not recommend loosening restrictions that prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"Right now, we still have about 290,000 cases every single day, and our hospitalization rates now are higher than they even were at the peak of our Delta surge," Walensky said.
Doctors fear ending the school mask mandate will cause COVID-19 cases to rise again. Other doctors like Philadelphia Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital, thinks people should continue to wear masks indoors for a few more weeks.
While the Omicron surge is decreasing, Walensky believes the numbers are still too high to safely consider lifting mask mandates.
"We owe it to our children to make sure that they can safely stay in school. Right now, that includes masking. We've seen outbreaks that have occurred in communities where students were not masked in schools and had to close," she briefed.
Statewide, governors and public health experts are asking the White House to share and guide them as to when it would be deemed appropriate to transition to softer mandates. The White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaku, made it clear on Monday during a news briefing that the White House stands by the CDC’s guidance.
"The guidance is very clear, which is that we recommend masking in schools. That is the recommendation from the CDC,” Psaku said.
Walensky stated she did not believe there was a specific benchmark that could alter measures in place for COVID-19. One of the things she keeps a close eye on is how hospitals are managing the variants of the virus with other patients that are not Coronavirus related.
"Are hospitals able to take care of the car accidents, the heart attacks and strokes that routinely walk in the door because they are not at capacity taking care of patients with Covid-19? And right now across the country, our hospitals are still in crunch mode," she stated.
According to the CDC, 99% of U.S. counties are still highly transmissible for coronavirus. 22.6% of children aged 5 to 11 and 56.4% of kids aged 12 to 16 are fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
The number of parents who chose to vaccinate their children are incredibly low and experts expect to see a rapid spread in COVID in schools that are choosing to lift the mask mandate.