Face Mask Mandates End in Some States, Sparking Tensions

"Face mask and dry leaves on a frozen puddle" (CC BY 2.0) by Ivan Radic

As coronavirus cases have begun to drop all over the country, some governors are starting to get rid of their statewide mask mandates. However, this move has reportedly raised some tensions with some city leaders who opt to keep their mask mandates in effect in order to fight the new strain of COVID-19.

Between November 17 to February 6, a mask mandate was implemented in the state for individuals in indoor public spaces and when within 6 feet of non-household members for 15 minutes or longer.

However, Governor Kim Reynolds lifted the mask mandate effective February 7 while still encouraging vulnerable populations to “continue to limit their activities outside of their home.”

This move came after the COVID cases and hospitalization had dropped by around 80% since the peak of autumn, and vaccination programs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities got underway.

The Republican governor said, “We need to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to protect Iowans, especially our most vulnerable.” She continued, “But I also have to balance economies that support the individuals that are trying to sustain a business or sustain their livelihood.”

Yet, some cities do not want to follow the actions set by the Governor. For instance, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, among several others, plan to keep COVID restrictions in place at a time when the new strain of the coronavirus made its way into Iowa.

Last August, Des Moines also had its own mask mandate enforced, even months before the statewide mandate was put in place.

Frank Cownie, the city’s Democratic mayor, said, “I think now is the time to be more diligent than ever.”

Mask mandates have been a source of various debates in states and cities all over the country. Florida does not have a mask mandate. However, several local governments tried to put them in place.

The mandate, which has been extended a couple of times, includes exceptions to the mask requirement for things such as eating.

After the mask mandate was lifted, five residents of Iowa filed a lawsuit that has now gone up to the state Supreme Court.

However, Iowa is not the only state that has ended its mask mandate. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Iowa is one of 15 states that has either ended its mask mandate or never had one, according to a compilation by AARP.”

Iowa governor said, “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.”

The governor added that she is still encouraging his constituents to wear masks still, socially distance, and abide by the other basic precautions to avoid the spread of the virus. She said, “People are doing it. They don’t need me to tell them.”

Included in the list of those states are Montana and North Dakota, where the governors have reduced restrictions. But some cities in those states chose to keep their mask mandates in place.

In most states and territories, face masks are mandated by law as preventive measures during these times of pandemic. Together with public health experts, most governors strongly encourage wearing face masks, regardless of the state mandate.

But for states with their own mask decrees, the details differ. For instance, some state simply requires face-covering anytime individual leaves his or her house. Meanwhile, others give detailed instructions as to where masks must be worn.