By David Potter
On Feb. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced their plan to ease Covid mask guidelines nationally. The announcement has followed a sharp decline in Covid cases and death rates since omicron has become the predominant variant in America in late 2021. Now, as states and localities are embracing the CDC’s new guidelines locally, the shift will likely also serve a political precursor event for President Joe Biden to declare victory over Covid in his first State of the Union on March 1.
Regardless of the politics, this move is beneficial for Americans. The psychological weight of Covid has been immense and it is now time for America to return to normal. Dr. Walensky said the new guidelines in a CDC Media Telebriefing on Feb. 25 “will depend on the COVID 19 level in the community… directing our prevention efforts towards protecting people at high risk for severe illness and preventing hospitals and healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.” CDC has a widget on their website where Americans can check to see what their Covid community level currently is.
Two days after this announcement, the county where many of Washington, D.C. elites reside followed suit with its schools. On March 1, students at Fairfax County schools will no longer be required to wear masks. Fairfax County Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the nation and Fairfax County is the fourth wealthiest county in the country. It is a very liberal place to live and work: 69 percent voted for Biden in 2020. And yet the Covid mandates are ending. If a county as blue as Fairfax is ready to treat Covid as endemic, rather than pandemic, then clearly it is time for the entire country to do the same.
Throughout the pandemic, Democrats have tended to be more concerned with Covid than Republicans and Independents. And support for Covid restrictions have waned over time. A mid-February AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found support for mask mandates was down to 50 percent, compared to 55 percent in Aug. 2021 and 75 percent in Dec. 2020.
And, critically, in a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, 50 percent disapproved of President Biden handling of the pandemic, including 55 percent of independents. Only 44 percent approved.
Roughly two weeks ago, and prior to the CDC’s announcement, Democratic governors across America made a show of lifting Covid mask requirements. As the Washington Post’s Andrew Jeong reported on Feb. 11: “Nevada became the latest state to remove a requirement that people wear face masks in most indoor settings… [joining] Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, California, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts on the list of states to say they will loosen restrictions.”
Collectively, this was a massive break in ranks from Biden and federal recommendations. Connecticut Democratic Governor Ned Lamont insisted “that’s nonsense” when asked the if internal polling led Democrats to lessen restrictions in an interview with CNBC Squawk Box. Lamont added, “With omicron the numbers have come down, the metrics are pretty clear we can get rid of these mask mandates and we can do it safely.”
Still, Lamont took credit for governors taking the lead on the issue and coordinating their response: “We worked on this together as Governors throughout the region. We thought this is a good time.”
The polls do indicate that Americans are ready to get back to normal. A January poll from Monmouth University that found 70 percent agreed with the statement, “it’s time we accept that Covid is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives.”
Regardless of the motivation of easing restrictions — scientific, political, or both — the Covid pandemic is clearly dying in Americans’ minds and in natural world.
All of which sets to the stage for President Bident Biden to highlight the decline of Covid in his State of the Union. The White House has already announced that it is dropping mask mandates before the event, and so is the House of Representatives. Either way, if politics are following the science, or if science is following the politics, clearly, the American people are weary of pandemic life and ready for normalcy again. And in that context, the CDC’s new guidelines are definitely a victory for freedom and liberty.
David Potter is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.
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