Officials across the U.S. are again weighing how and whether to impose mask mandates as COVID-19 infections soar and the American public grows ever wearier of pandemic-related restrictions.
Much of the debate centers around the nation’s schools, some of which have closed due to infection-related staffing issues. In a variety of places, mask mandates are being lifted or voted down.
The changes come as the federal government assesses the supply of medical-grade respirator face coverings, such as N95 or KN95 masks. During a briefing Wednesday, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said officials were “strongly considering options to make more high-quality masks available to all Americans,” noting the government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks.
The best mask “is the one that you will wear and the one you can keep on all day long, that you can tolerate in public indoor settings,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Monday, officials in Wyoming’s capital city voted to end a mask mandate for students and teachers that had been in place since September. The Cheyenne school district also reduced COVID-19 isolation requirements, voting to require that only people with symptoms and positive tests — not just those exposed — need to stay home for five days and mask for five days thereafter.
The University of Missouri’s governing board on Tuesday rejected the university system president’s request to temporarily require masks on the Columbia campus, as well as a mandate specific to classrooms and labs.
A school board meeting was canceled Monday in Wichita, Kansas, after three new members refused to wear masks for a swearing-in ceremony. Meanwhile in the Topeka area, elected officials rejected a plea to mandate masks, urging people to be cautious but saying they were not ready for a requirement.
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Source:: The Denver Post