By Carmel Shachar
The desire to get back to “normal” is an understandable one. And despite their prevalence for the last two years, masks don’t fit into most people’s concept of normal.
But removing mask requirements means rejecting yet another public health tool to control the pandemic and protect our health care system.
First, some context: most states haven’t had indoor mask mandates in place for many months. As of February 10th, only Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Hawaii, Illinois, and Delaware had statewide indoor mask mandates. These remaining few states are now taking steps to end mask policies. Some states have narrower mask mandates that apply to schools, and are similarly moving to end such policies.
But the decision to end these mandates is not made in a vacuum. We should be thinking about what other public health initiatives and components should be in place before we lift these protections.