According to the latest coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins University, more than 29.1 million coronavirus cases have been reported in the US through Thursday afternoon, in addition to more than 530,000 coronavirus deaths. The 7-day average of new coronavirus cases in the US is now down to a little more than 63,000 from more than 250,000 at one point in early January — and while public health experts like White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci would like to see that number fall still dramatically farther before an end to the pandemic is declared, some officials have decided to go ahead and start celebrating early.
On Thursday, for example, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced that the state would join the ranks of those states that are now lifting face mask mandates around the US. His announcement also includes the lifting of restrictions on events, as well. “Because of the progress we’ve made, I’ll be issuing a new executive order tomorrow,” Stitt said. “The standard for normal cannot be zero cases.”
Importantly, Stitt said he’s still encouraging Oklahoma residents to wear face masks — it’s just that the requirement is no longer there on a statewide basis. Similarly, other states have decided to go ahead down this same route. Like Texas, which garnered a flood of national media attention for its own lifting of coronavirus safety measures on a statewide basis, as you can read in our previous post here.
On Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he’s suing Travis County and the city of Austin officials to force them to rescind their local face mask mandate — which localities are allowed to have, as long as certain metrics are reached. “I told Travis County & The City of Austin to comply with state mask law,” Paxton tweeted. “They blew me off. So, once again, I’m dragging them to court.”
President Biden kicked up a minor media storm during remarks in recent days at the White House when he made some pretty strident comments in regards to the lifting of these kinds of coronavirus safety measures in certain states. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden said. “The last thing — the last thing — we need is Neanderthal thinking in the meantime.”
Meantime, here’s the full current list of the states that currently have no statewide face mask mandate in place to fight the coronavirus, according to news reports:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.