ORLANDO, Fla. – As Florida reports a drop in daily coronavirus cases, other states are starting to roll back their COVID-19 restrictions.
Starting on Thursday, New York allowed masks to come off in most indoor settings. New York joins a growing list of states to recently drop its mandate, despite no change in guidance from the CDC.
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Dr. Ali Mokdad with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said now is the time to roll back restrictions.
“We need to move on with our lives,” Mokdad said.
Mokdad has been tracking COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. He said the recent decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths are reasons why policymakers can ease back on mask mandates.
“We need to treat it like the flu and it will become a seasonal virus and you need to take a vaccine for it, but we need to move on with our lives,” he said.
Florida never had a mask mandate, but other states did and they’re rolling back their restrictions.
EMS Director Dr. Todd Husty agrees with easing back rules. He said things are different now.
“We have treatments now, we have lots of people with immunity and omicron is weaker as far as the amount of disease it causes. Put all of that together and yeah, if you’re not at risk and you’re not in a big crowd of people that are going to be spreading disease, yeah lighten up. Probably time to lighten up,” Husty said.
The CDC isn’t ready to let up, yet. Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the agency is working on updating its guidelines, but they still encourage mask-wearing.
“We continue to recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission. That’s much of the country right now in public indoor settings,” Walensky said.
Both Mokdad and Husty caution, each person needs to assess their own risk. If they’re immunocompromised or not vaccinated, then they should still wear masks.
“We still have a pandemic. We’re still not in low transmission rate. There’s still a lot of people that can get this disease and spread it and we don’t know what’s coming next. So I think for ourselves, especially if you’re at risk or you’re unvaccinated, you should probably wear a mask in places where you can’t social distance,” Husty said.