COVID-19 cases have begun to drop across the country, and as a result, some governors are ditching their statewide mask mandates. However, this has reportedly raised some tensions with city leaders who may keep their own restrictions in effect in order to combat new strains of the virus.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) ended the state’s mask mandate and restrictions on social gatherings. This came after case numbers and hospitalizations had “fallen by around 80% since the autumn peak and vaccination programs in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities got under way,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
“We need to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to protect Iowans, especially our most vulnerable,” the Republican governor said. “But I also have to balance economies that support the individuals that are trying to sustain a business or sustain their livelihood.”
Some cities do not plan to follow the governor’s actions. Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, and several others plan to keep restrictions in place at a time when new strains of COVID-19 have made their way into Iowa.
Des Moines had its own mask mandate enforced in August, which was months before the statewide mask mandate was put into place. “I think now is the time to be more diligent than ever,” said Frank Cownie, the city’s Democratic mayor.
Mask-wearing has been a source of contention for various states and cities around the country.
Florida does not have a statewide mask mandate, but several local governments have put them into place.
According to Fox 13 News Tampa Bay, “Palm Beach County issued an emergency order in June that required face coverings to be worn at businesses and government facilities, on public transportation and in other public places where social distancing is not possible. The order, which has been extended several times, includes exceptions to the mask requirement for such things as eating, according to the appeals court.”
After the order was issued, five residents filed a lawsuit that has now gone up to the state Supreme Court.
City and state governments are not in agreement in other areas of the country, as well. The Wall Street Journal reports that “Iowa is one of 15 states that has either ended its mask mandate or never had one, according to a compilation by AARP.” Included in those 15 states are Montana and North Dakota, where the governors have lessened restrictions. However, some cities in those states are keeping their mask mandates in place.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds had avoided ordering a statewide mask mandate in Iowa, reportedly calling the measure unenforceable. In November, however, new COVID-19 cases were increasing and Iowa’s hospitals started to fill up. She then issued a proclamation on November 17 that included mask-wearing directives as well as social gathering rules. Now, Reynolds said, “everything is going in the right direction.”
“If we start to see any increase, we’ll adjust accordingly. And Iowans know I’ll do that. I’ve said I’ll dial back,” Reynolds said.
The governor added that she is still encouraging Iowans to wear masks, socially distance, and follow other basic precautions. “People are doing it,” she said. “They don’t need me to tell them.”
The CDC contends that it is still too early to end mask requirements.