States drop mask mandates

Illinois, Massachusetts and New York joined the list of states planning to lift public face-covering requirements by the end of February or in March.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed Wednesday that much of the statewide indoor mask mandate will expire on Thursday. Many students are still home on a scheduled winter break and will return to the classroom at the end of the month.

Hochul said she would reassess the mask mandate for schools after students test for COVID-19.

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced Wednesday he was lifting masking requirements—except for schools—due to plummeting infection rates.

In Virginia, 10 of 21 Senate Democrats joined Republicans in voting to ban mask mandates in schools, sending the measure to the House of Delegates. Florida passed a similar measure last November. 

Does this mean the end is near? The current seven-day average for confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations is down to about 12,500, a decline of about 25 percent from the prior week and 41 percent since the peak in mid-January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Financial Times on Thursday that the United States is exiting the “full-blown pandemic phase.”

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2022, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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