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Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday that D.C.’s mask mandate would officially be lifted on November 22nd, but a Biden administration spokesperson shared that the White House has no plans to end the arbitrary practice of indoor masking for their employees any time soon.
“The White House follows CDC guidance which recommends masking in areas of high or substantial transmission,” White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz told Fox News on Tuesday.
The latest guidance will still require masks at any private business that wants to continue employing the mandate, on public transport, inside schools, childcare facilities, libraries, congregate facilities like shelters, dorms and nursing homes, and at DC government facilities where there is direct interaction between employees and the public.
Going forward, @_DCHealth will create guidance based on risk levels and the use of layered mitigation strategies.
Risk levels will primarily be tied to a person’s vaccination status. pic.twitter.com/risW9dW7Eg
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) November 16, 2021
The mask mandate has been in place since it was reinstated by Bowser in July 2021 because of rising cases– but its rollback represents a needed return to normalcy for many.
“We are encouraged by the numbers that have opted into vaccination now, some of them encouraged by mandates. There may even be an increase in cases … but what we haven’t seen is an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. That is the promise of vaccination,” Bowser said.
Moving forward, the mayor advised that the city will “create guidance based on risk levels and the use of layered mitigation strategies.”
A total of 46,180,190 COVID-19 cases have cumulatively been reported in the U.S. as of November 3, 2021, since the start of the pandemic. In D.C., there has been a total of 65,707 reported cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the New York Times tracker. The city currently sits at an average of 88 cases per day.
The press release on the rollback of the mandate reminds D.C. residents that the vaccine remains the best preventative against hospitalization and death from the coronavirus.
“D.C. Health reminds residents that the strongest protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, and encourages all people, regardless of vaccination status, to consider their risk factors and surroundings carefully when choosing layered mitigations strategies (e.g., wearing a mask, social distancing),” the release reads.
There is sadly no guarantee that the days of “masking up” are behind the city of D.C.
“D.C. Health is always monitoring the experience we have with Covid, especially if this virus changes, and would require us to think about other emergency interventions … that could include a mask mandate,” Bowser explained, “So if we need to come back to the public and say, ‘We think that we need to blunt transmission,’ or we see hospitalizations, or we see some other activity in the public health system, then we will come back to the public with that information. But hopefully, that won’t happen.”
The nation’s capital was one of the last jurisdictions in the U.S. to rescind mask mandates. Only six states–Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington– are still employing sweeping mandates that impact private businesses.
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