Masking mandates, something virtually every right-thinking American hoped had ridden off into the sunset, are making a strong comeback. Major cities are considering reinstituting indoor requirements for face coverings as COVID-19 continues its summer surge.
Some military installations are back to mandating masks, and government buildings report returning to requiring them as well.
From California to New York and in many areas in between, officials are scrambling to implement safety measures and debating if more are needed. And some alarmists now call the highly transmissible BA.5 variant the “worst yet.”
One glaring example is Los Angeles, which faces a return to broad indoor mask requirements on July 29 without a change in current hospital admissions. County health Director Barbara Ferrer said nothing is being closed and gatherings may go on.
However, the strong recommendation — which may soon be a requirement — is for residents to return to “well-fitting high-filtration masks” when in indoor settings.
And the news is even worse for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over half of Americans are already in communities that the CDC reports need indoor masking and other steps to curb the COVID surge.
A full 55% of the nation’s residents are in areas deemed “high” COVID Community Levels, a leap from 32% last week. Federal facilities automatically have restrictions triggered under guidelines they must follow.
Most state and local officials thus far have hesitated to roll out mandates once again.
The recent surge in COVID infections is hardly unique to the United States. Japan on Thursday urged its citizens to take extra caution heading into a long holiday weekend and summer vacation for schools.
Tokyo alone reported 16,878 new cases Wednesday and an almost identical number Thursday. The nationwide daily total jumped past 90,000 new cases.
That doesn’t mean all are anxious to avoid the dreaded restrictions. As clearly seen during the previous two years, some are always eager to politicize a health issue into one of control over others.
And in the case of a certain political party facing a bloodbath in the midterms over rampant inflation and other general mismanagement, a return to restrictions could be seen as a godsend.