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While more mask mandates have been lifted across the country this week, some have also acted to reverse proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
In New Hampshire, schools will no longer be allowed to mandate masks.
“I don’t think this should be viewed as a drastic change or measure, it’s just kind of another step forward as we continue to return to the old normal,” Gov. Chris Sununu said. “We know that masking can be a very powerful tool in times of surging transmissibility, but it obviously has drawbacks, especially for kids in schools and those with disabilities.”
AS COVID-19 CASES, HOSPITALIZATIONS FALL, MARYLAND AND OTHER STATES CONSIDER REVISING RESTRICTIONS
Schools will be given some time to transition their policies; those that attempt to maintain mandates will run afoul of state laws.
The change reflects a recent drop in new cases and hospitalizations. State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said that authorities are recommending face masks “be worn based on individual preference and individual choice.”
Los Angeles County said it would begin to allow people to remove masks indoors if they are vaccinated.
The public health order in LA will be relaxed starting on Friday, allowing unmasking indoors at restaurants, bars and other businesses for people who show proof of vaccination.
Workers can also remove their masks if they are vaccinated.
Customers who are unvaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors unless they are actively eating or drinking and all customers must still prove either that they are vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test.
Last week, California became the first state to formally shift to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus.
LA COUNTY TO LOOSEN MASK RULES WHEN COVID-19 NUMBERS IMPROVE: REPORT
Cases and hospitalizations are also dropping in Missouri and top elected officials said Wednesday that St. Louis County would end its mask mandate next week.
“With the mask mandate, a continued effort to get more people vaccinated and the virus weakening, we’re in a much better place today — a place where we are cautiously optimistic, a place where we can move from a mask requirement to a mask recommendation,” County Executive Sam Page said at a news conference.
The city of St. Louis will still require masks in public places and Kansas City’s mask mandate expired last Thursday.
In Georgia, senators are advancing bills that would let public school parents opt their children out of school mask mandates and would prohibit many state and local agencies from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Both bills would expire on June 30, 2023.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday that an arbitrator has upheld the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for police officers.
The Fraternal Order of Police had vigorously fought the city’s rules, which resulted in lawsuits. The arbitrator’s ruling said officers must get their first dose of the shot by March 13 and the second dose a month later.
In New York City, Bloomberg reported that Mayor Eric Adams said he wants the city to move toward phasing out its proof-of-vaccination requirement for patrons of restaurants, bars and other indoor spaces.
The mayor pledged he would continue to “follow the science” but does not want to act prematurely.
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Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. have ended similar requirements as the latest pandemic surge ends.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the U.S. saw 84,793 new COVID-19 cases and 2,25 new deaths in the past day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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