Lifting mask restrictions sets an irresponsible precedent


Midway staff

Only maintaining disciplined and responsible measures like mask-wearing will take us out of the pandemic and into safety, writes reporter William Tan.

William Tan, Reporter

Citing vaccine advancements and recently lower COVID-19 rates in his state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded his state’s mask mandate on March 2, joining six states who have just recently rejected President Biden’s strong advice to wear a mask.

At the moment, any state’s choice to lift mask restrictions can potentially strain the already-overwhelmed vaccine rollout and sets an irresponsible precedent for other states with higher reported COVID-19 rates. 

While Texas’s COVID-19 state positivity rate is under 10%, only 12% of Texans were fully vaccinated at the time this article was published. Additionally, only 15% of the population of Indiana, which is slated to rescind its mask mandate on April 6, have been fully vaccinated. With such low rates of complete vaccination, these states are not in the clear yet, and there’s still a genuine risk of COVID-19 resurgence in the future, especially with a rise in dangerous variants such as the B.1.1.7 variant and the P.1 variant.

Signaling that masks aren’t necessary for a specific state suggests that regions across the country are in the clear, a dangerous assertion for those in  policy fields and for irresponsible citizens. This is illustrated by a significant drop in testing rates in Texas, as citizens are increasingly encouraged by the prospect of vaccination.

It also strains the vaccine rollout by perpetuating an urgency to fulfill the desires of people like those in Texas who are ignoring safety measures like testing in hopes of receiving the vaccine as fast as possible. This can have catastrophic consequences such as nationwide vaccine shortages if supply cannot keep up with demand. Putting people at higher risk by exposing them to the virus when only less than 15% of the nation is fully vaccinated is jumping the gun.

Only maintaining disciplined and responsible measures like mask-wearing will take us out of the pandemic and into safety. President Biden sums it up perfectly, calling Texas’s decision, “Neanderthal thinking.”