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Blue States Move to Drop Mask Mandates

America’s blue states are increasingly chasing normalcy, especially when it comes to face mask rules meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Blue states move to drop mask mandates
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in Trenton today. Photo: Tanya Breen/The Record via USA Today Network

America’s blue states are increasingly chasing normalcy, especially when it comes to face mask rules meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The big picture: “We are not going to manage COVID to zero,” tweeted Gov. Phil Murphy. The New Jersey Democrat announced today that his state is unwinding school mask mandates that have been in place for the entire pandemic.

  • “We have to learn how to live with COVID as we move from a pandemic to an endemic phase of this virus.”
  • What we’re hearing: Murphy knows he has to sell this plan to a lot of nervous parents. I’m told he plans to watch the data from schools every day and is banking on his past willingness to react to data. But his top goal is to restore a sense of normalcy.

State of play: California health officials said Monday that the state will lift its indoor mask mandate after Feb. 15.

  • “Since California’s peak during the Omicron surge, the state has experienced a 65% decrease in case rates,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced Monday that the state will lift its mask mandate for indoor settings on Feb. 11, while masking requirements for K-12 schools and childcare facilities will end on March 31.

  • “We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the Omicron surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced during a news briefing Monday afternoon that the state’s mask mandate for schools and childcare centers will end Feb. 28.

  • “The biggest difference I can tell you is the fact that we now have the tools to keep ourselves safe,” Lamont said.
  • Both governors noted that school districts and local communities will be able to consider local mask mandates.

The governor of New York has also said they are prepared to reevaluate masks mandates.

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