Despite health experts warning against easing up on Covid-19 restrictions in the face of threats from variants, several states are going ahead with letting businesses resume operations at full capacity. Masking mandates are also being lifted.
Health Experts Frown As More States Ease Covid-19 Restrictions
For instance, in Mississippi and Texas, businesses are set to open full capacity, and mask mandates are also being withdrawn.
Health experts, however, continue to point out that it was too soon for the states to be doing it. Their concerns stem from the fact that after the recent decline in new case numbers from unprecedented highs, the downturn had halted at a high level, with the seven-day average case levels recording the highs that were seen last summer. Also, even more worryingly, more transmissible variants were spreading.
According to Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director, the Center for Vaccine Development, Texas Children’s Hospital, it was not a time to relax restrictions and the governors who were all high-fiving themselves saying the states were out of it needed to know they were not.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country was at risk of losing the hard-earned ground that had been gained in the fight against Covid-19 against the backdrop of fast-spreading variants taking advantage of Americans going lax on safety measures.
She said Monday that she was really worried about reports of rollback of public health restrictions by several states. She added that one needed to stay strong in one’s conviction.
Hotez, who spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Tuesday said that researchers would get to learn a lot more if the states were to continue with the restrictions for a few weeks at least or more.
Also, a higher percentage of the US population would be vaccinated, and then the restrictions could be reconsidered, but not now, he said about the reopening by states.
According to President Joe Biden, the US would have the vaccine in the needed quantity to cover every adult American by the end of May. The timeline had been advanced by months.
But he had warned that it was not over yet and the need of the hour was to stay vigilant.
Highly transmissible variants that threatened to unleash a fresh surge in the country included the B.1.1.7 strain, identified first in the UK. The CDC had warned that it could become the predominant strain in the country this month.
According to Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a member of the Biden Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board, it was early days to open up.
He told CNN that easing up was not advisable and indoor dining, big groups and doing away with mask need not be allowed. He added that America still saw 2,000 deaths every day from Covid-19, and America could not get inured to that.
He added if Americans relaxed too early, the Covid-19 numbers would reverse and rise again.
Louisiana had allowed most businesses and restaurants to increase capacity to 75%. Also, religious services would be exempted from restrictions as of Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that restaurants in Michigan would be allowed to open at 50% capacity, up from 25% on 5 March.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear had announced increased capacity to 60% for many businesses, which included hair salons and barber shops, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and government offices.
State officials of Pennsylvania announced a revision of limits for maximum occupancy for outdoor and indoor events with the elimination of restrictions on travel out of the state. Chicago officials said they would allow operations of restaurants indoors at a capacity of less than 50% or 50 people, upping the earlier 40% limit.