by Elpidio Estioko
The federal government, with the advice of science through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been issuing mandates in order to contain the pandemic and eventually win the war against the virus.
Efforts to contain COVID-19 have been defining moments for President Joe Biden met with ups and downs.
While most local governments are abiding with Biden’s mandates, some local officials are defying them and issuing their own version of safety protocols based on whim and political opportunism.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for instance, is against vaccination and wearing of masks. He has been very visible, in public forums defying mandates throughout the pandemic. But right now, during the surge of the omicron, he is reportedly nowhere to be found.
According to thehill.com, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings slammed Gov. DeSantis’s handling of the state’s recent COVID-19 outbreak of the omicron.
During a press conference, he said that counties have not received funding from the state for COVID-19 testing and questioned why DeSantis has been largely absent as the omicron variant has quickly become the dominant strain in Florida.
“We have not received any assistance from the state of Florida at our testing sites,” Demings said.
“Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged and they should ask the question, ‘Where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?’”
Contrary to the governor’s mandate, Demings reinstated a mask mandate for all county employees working in person and announced the opening of a third county COVID-19 testing site.
In November 2020, De Santis signed four bills into law curtailing both mask and vaccine mandates.
In the case of Hawaii, Gov. David Ige is complying with CDC protocols by declaring a Hawaii statewide mandate on mask wearing. The statewide face-covering mandate requires all individuals to wear a mask that covers their mouths and over their noses in public settings.
Currently, states have different versions of implementing mask wearing and vaccination. Some mandate wearing of masks, others don’t!
Just like Hawaii, few other states are requiring most people to wear masks regardless of vaccination status such as California, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington.
Mask mandates in some states already expired last year. Alabama’s mask mandate expired on April 9. While Ohio’s on June 2.
According to AARP, so far, 29 states have lifted its mask mandates while 11 states didn’t even impose mandates at any point during the pandemic.
The CDC announced last year that fully vaccinated people can safely forgo wearing masks in most public settings. It is still highly advisable to wear masks indoors.
But with the recent surge of COVID-19 cases due to the delta and omicron variants, the CDC has extended or tighten their mandates to control the spread of the virus.
“Just a few weeks ago, Hawaii saw a record high COVID-19 cases in our communities,” said Ige in a Jan. 26 press release.
“While we believe we may have hit the peak, we must continue to remain vigilant. Mask wearing and asking travelers to get vaccinated or tested before they fly to Hawaii are among some of the measures that have helped keep COVID-19 case numbers manageable for our limited resources here.”
But what people don’t know is whether masks are mandated or not, the pandemic needs to be contained and stopped!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Elpidio Estioko