As States Begin to Reopen in Light of the COVID-19 Vaccines, Many Question if it’s Too Soon

Sign+on+Lovettsville+Velocity%E2%80%99s+front+door+saying+%E2%80%9CFACE+MASK+REQUIRED.%E2%80%9D%0APhoto+provided+by+Carissa+Vergeres.

Sign on Lovettsville Velocity’s front door saying “FACE MASK REQUIRED.” Photo provided by Carissa Vergeres.

Written by David Hamady, Carissa Vergeres, and Robbie Showers

The recent creation and increasing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines have led some states to believe that now is the time to end their lockdowns and eliminate mask mandates. This controversial decision has people questioning if it may be too early to ease up on coronavirus restrictions, or if it’s a step in the right direction. 

With a little over a year passed since the first wave of lockdowns, it’s currently up to states to decide how to combat COVID-19. As of March 16th, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon ended the state’s requirement of masks, and other states are joining the movement. Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, and Montana are part of a growing list of states that are lifting restrictions, including their mask mandates, in an attempt to make life normal once again. These actions have been met with harsh criticism from public health officials and the CDC who fear that reopening states too soon could create new outbreaks and variants of the virus which have become prevalent in recent months. 

Many people fear that a surge in COVID-19 cases is on the horizon with the recent opening of states. Mia Cammarota, a senior at Woodgrove High School, comments on this by saying, “I think it’s too early to ease the restrictions on mask mandates because it feels counterintuitive. We’re finally seeing progress with numbers due to the vaccine now rolling out, but not everyone has received their shot because not everyone wants one, which is a reason to keep wearing masks.”

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott allowed all businesses in the state to fully reopen, however, certain establishments could still choose to require masks at their discretion. This has created conflict between store employees and customers, who think the decision to still require masks in stores and restaurants runs against the statewide order. 

“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” said Abbott. “Everybody who wants to work should have the opportunity. Every business that wants to be open should be open.”

Other states, such as California, are planning to reopen in the near future, but only under the right circumstances. Such criteria would be sufficient vaccinations for people who want to be inoculated, ages 16 and older, and stable hospitalization rates. According to statewide metrics, roughly 80% of counties in California are at “moderate” risk levels. This percentage of counties also accounts for 32 million people, a large chunk of the 39 million that populate California. With these numbers in mind, the current date that California’s state government has in mind to reopen the entire economy is June 15th, if the previous requirements are met.

“We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here, such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated, but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.