Gov. Tate Reeves announced on March 2 that he’d be lifting all state-imposed mask mandates and COVID-19 related restrictions on business operations across Mississippi. The following day, governors in Texas, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota followed suit. This controversial decision is problematic for many reasons. Although Covid cases have been declining because of the recent vaccine releases, COVID-19 is far from being eradicated. Individuals in power may still advise people to continue to mask up, but many Americans will not do so if it is not required.
Mask wearing and recent vaccinations have done wonders in terms of helping the drop in COVID cases. As of April 3, 2021, Mississippi’s daily new case average is only 224, which is a significant contrast from earlier, much more dire statistics of an average of around 2,000. This does not overshadow the fact that without the continuation of proper mask-wearing and social distancing, this drop would have never happened, and this recent trend of dropping cases could shift once again into something fatal.
The discovery of new, more contagious variants of the virus and other factors may be an obstacle in the return to normalcy. Despite vaccines rolling out steadily, the new variants and the recent easing of COVID restrictions are likely the cause of a nationwide 3% spike in cases. CDCDirector Rochelle Walensky expressed concerns that lighter restrictions in addition to spring break could set the nation back in stopping the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It is only a matter of time before these factors worsen and affect Mississippians directly.
According to studies conducted by the University of Southern California, Americans are very inconsistent in their mask-wearing. Due to the surprisingly popular belief wearing a mask is an infringement of basic rights, many Mississippians tried to forgo wearing a mask even when there was a mandate. In consonance with the 10th Amendment, the constitution gives the states the ability to protect the public’s welfare, safety and health. With masks no longer being a requirement and most businesses and public venues back in full swing, people will no doubt take advantage of their newfound “freedom,” which will cause the state’s infection rate to rise.
Contrary to what Gov. Tate Reeves or others may believe, the fight against COVID-19 has not been won. The virus has not been contained. Because of this, Americans should continue to do everything in their power to stop the spread.
by Dariyel Johnson