Viewpoints: A Mask Mandate Actually Helps Businesses; What Does It Mean To Return To ‘Normal,’ Anyway?
Editorial pages weigh in on Texas' decision to roll back pandemic restrictions.
Texas Governor's Appalling Decision On Masks
I was getting my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Bayou City Event Center in Houston when the news broke that Governor Greg Abbott is lifting Texas' mask mandate -- even as health officials warn not to ease restrictions aimed at stemming the pandemic. No one at the vaccination site removed their mask, fortunately. But we immediately started discussing the decision -- and we were all appalled. (Katie Mehnert, 3/4)
Dallas Morning News:
Texas Still Needs A Mask Mandate, Governor Abbott
After many dark and difficult months, we are beginning to turn the fight on COVID-19. Infection and death rates have been falling steadily as vaccines are more widely distributed and larger numbers of people have developed natural immunity. We understand Gov. Greg Abbott’s impulse Tuesday to essentially declare victory against the virus by ending a statewide mask mandate and permitting all Texas businesses to open at 100% capacity beginning Wednesday. The trouble is that his declaration is premature. While businesses deserve the chance to get back on their feet, the governor needed to maintain the mask mandate to give those same businesses the cover they need to require their patrons to wear a mask. Doing so would have helped ensure the businesses aren’t forced to close again in the event we get yet another wave of infections. (3/3)
The Washington Post:
We Have A Choice Between Two Covid-19 Futures. Let’s Make The Right One.
We are at a turning point in the fight against covid-19, and President Biden is right: “Neanderthal thinking” that puts immediate gratification ahead of what’s best for public health and the economy only helps the virus and postpones the day when life returns to something like normal. The process of vaccinating the nation remains frustratingly slow and user-unfriendly, but it has improved. There is still far too much randomness involved. Did you check the right local or state government website at the right moment when new appointments were being posted? Did you click quickly enough on that text from CVS announcing that vaccines were available in your area? Still, more than 40 percent of Americans prioritized for vaccines — in most states, health professionals, the elderly and those with preexisting conditions — have found ways to get their shots. And with roughly 54 million of us having received at least one vaccine dose, we are on pace to far surpass Biden’s original, too-cautious goal of 100 million vaccinations in the administration’s first 100 days. (Eugene Robinson, 3/4)
The New York Times:
Seeking Connection In A New Normal
And so we emerge, blinking after lockdown, in the strange sunlight of community. After a year of death, a season of hope is suddenly before us, ushered in by President Biden’s promise of enough vaccines for every American adult by the end of May. Life is never so sweet as in the pivot out of despair, the chance to embrace what I recently saw called “the endorphins of possibility.” Soon, if we’re not staggered by the reckless decision of Texas and a handful of other states to abandon medical caution and common sense, we may experience a summer of normal. Normal! Will we recognize it when we see it, feel it, live it? Normal is a movable feast, depending on your view. “The U.S. Is Edging Toward Normal, Alarming Some Officials” was a New York Times headline for the ages this week.(Timothy Egan, 3/5)
Covid-19 Can Bring A New Era Of Public Health Leadership. But Will It?
The bubonic plague — also known as the Black Death — killed as many as 200 million people in the mid-14th century, about one-third of the population of Europe. It was the deadliest epidemic in history, yet it gave birth to public health initiatives that survive today, including quarantines and checkpoints to stop the spread of disease. In the wake of World War II, a wave of international collaboration created the World Health Organization. The HIV/AIDS epidemic spawned a new era of urgency and activism for international health efforts. Great threats have historically been catalysts for change. Will the Covid-19 pandemic help make public health more valued, sustainable, and resilient? It’s possible, but not without sustained commitment in five areas: (Marian W. Wentworth, 3/5)
Winter Is Almost Over. Almost.
America is entering a dangerous phase of the coronavirus crisis: jumping the gun. Yes, three different vaccines against the disease have been approved. Millions of the most high-risk Americans have been inoculated. Both new infections and deaths are trending down, and statistical models are promising. The weather will soon improve, which should reduce infections. But that doesn’t mean the country, or Massachusetts, should declare victory quite yet. A cautious reopening, laser-focused on the unacceptable number of schools that remain closed, is going to require a bit more patience from a public that’s understandably tired of sacrifice. Leaders, including Governor Baker, should take heed of the warning from newly installed CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and put a temporary pause on business reopenings for just a little longer while vaccinations continue. (3/4)