Tuesday, March 1st, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Some mask requirements for schools and indoor areas have been relaxed

News outlets are reporting in different ways about lowering mask rules in California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois and Michigan – some for most indoors, others in schools. And in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said that decisions about masks and vaccines should be shifted from the state to the individual.

AP: California, Oregon, Washington to drop school mask requirements

Schoolchildren in California, Oregon and Washington will no longer be required to wear masks under new indoor mask guidelines that the Democratic governors of all three states jointly announced Monday. “With case counts and hospitalizations falling across the West, California, Oregon and Washington are pulling together to update their masking policies,” the governors said in a statement. The three states have more than 7.5 million school-age children who have had some of the tightest coronavirus safety measures during the pandemic. (Dud and Beam, 3/1)

AP: End of COVID-19 mask requirement in Illinois for most indoor spaces

The need for face coverings in most Illinois indoor spaces ended Monday as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ease. Gov. JB Pritzker previously announced he would lift the mask mandate to slow the spread of the deadly virus as new cases and hospitalizations fall. The Democratic governor intended the requirement to remain in place for schools where students and staff are closer together, but other government actions have invalidated that order. (3/1)

Detroit Free Press: Michigan lifts mask mandate for most state employees

Michigan is rolling back its rule requiring state employees to wear masks when working indoors, according to a letter sent to all state employees Monday. The letter, from Liza Estlund Olson, head of the employer’s country office, indicates most people working in “normal office and outdoor settings” will be able to drop their masks from Thursday. The decision comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health agencies drastically changed guidance on masking amid improving COVID-19 trends. (Boucher, 28.2.)

Bloomberg: New Yorkers should make their own Covid decisions, says Hochul

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday that decisions about masks and vaccines should be shifted from the state back to individuals and places as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations ease. “Individuals should make their own decisions,” Hochul said after a weekend decision to lift a mask mandate for indoor schools on March 2. “Any place may have stricter requirements than the state.” (Diaz, 2/28)

Chicago Tribune: Masks are no longer required in daycare centers in Illinois

Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday added child care centers to the list of public places that no longer require masks, a move his office said was the result of new federal guidelines issued late Friday. Pritzker announced on Feb. 9 that he would remove the mandate for most indoor public spaces by the end of the month, and he added schools to that list on Friday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations and the Supreme Court of Illinois overturned a lower court order blocking enforcement of mask rules in schools. (Petrella, 28.2.)

Oklahoma: What does the new CDC-COVID guidance mean for masking in Oklahoma?

About half of Oklahoma counties still see such a high burden of COVID-19 in their communities that residents should continue to wear masks, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new recommendations take into account the burden COVID-19 is putting on the healthcare system in a given community, as well as new cases and hospitalizations. (Branham, 28.2.)

Fox News: CDC’s COVID-19 By County tool will help you look up guidelines by local area

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that face masks may be optional for Americans residing in areas where COVID-19 infections are “low” or “intermediate” risk. Knowing which areas are at “community-level risk” can be a challenge for commuters and domestic travelers, but the CDC has launched an online COVID-19 by County tool to help people view the coronavirus infection data track and determine local health and safety policies and prevention methods. “Scores can be low, medium, or high and are determined based on occupied hospital beds, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area,” the CDC wrote of its tool. “Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 community level in your area.” (Moore, 2/28)

In Updates on Vaccine Mandates –

AP: Honolulu ends vaccination certification mandate for restaurants and gyms

Honolulu will no longer require businesses, including restaurants and fitness centers, to have employees and customers fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19. Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Monday he will allow the emergency order, which required proof of vaccination or negative tests, to expire on Saturday. (2/28)

Miami Herald: Hospitals face penalties for not complying with vaccine mandate

After months of paying bonuses to convince staff members to get vaccinated or hitting them with extra training and penalties when they don’t, Florida hospital leaders say their facilities are on track to become one To comply with the federal mandate to vaccinate their employees against COVID-19. As of Monday, hospitals were required to have all workers fully vaccinated or grant them an approved exemption, although federal agencies are giving facilities more time to comply with the mandate without penalty — as long as they achieve at least a 90% compliance rating. (Chang, 2/28)

Likewise –

Axios: The Limits of “Following the Science”

Two years into the pandemic, the idea of ​​“following the science” has oversimplified what is actually a complex set of factors for policymakers to weigh when formulating a response. Science has repeatedly been used as a weapon to justify or defend positions held by both policymakers and public health experts. Even when data is irrefutable, people can disagree about the use of that data and how much value should be given to other factors. The CDC’s decision to relax masking guidelines is the latest example of science-based pandemic policy, but that’s ultimately a discretionary decision. (Owens and Snyder, 3/1)

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