In Canada, a band of truckers opposed to vaccine requirements has laid “siege” to Ottawa and set off 10 days of protests that have snarled that nation’s capital.
In the US, more states are planning to go mask-optional in schools as Covid-19 case numbers decline.
New states to end mask requirements. Now it’s Democratic governors who are softening the rules on masks.
Murphy set a one-month timeline and said masks would no longer be required in New Jersey schools and child care settings as of March 7, although local communities can create their own rules if needed.
In Connecticut, Lamont recommended ending the statewide mask requirement in schools and child care centers by the end of February.
“I think now is the time for us to say, the statewide mask mandate is no longer at our level. Each and every mayor, each and every superintendent, can make that call for themselves. I recommend the date February 28,” he said .
“The guidance is very clear, which is that we recommend masking in schools,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “That is the recommendation from the CDC. It is also true that at some point when the science and the data warrants, of course, our hope is that that’s no longer the recommendation, and they are continually assessing that.”
States, however, are free to ignore the recommendation.
“It’s always been up to school districts,” Psaki said. “That’s always been our point of view and always been our policy from here. And our policy from the federal government is to continue to advise everybody to abide by public health guidelines.”
Getting back to normal. CNN’s Jacqueline Howard looks at the arguments for and against the government updating its guidance on masks and other measures as cases fall.
“We have to be totally honest that we don’t know,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top pandemic adviser, said at a recent White House briefing.
On the other end of the spectrum, 14 states and Washington, DC, require masks in schools, per the EdWeek analysis. That number will fall to 10 when the New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut and Oregon mask requirements are lifted. More states could follow.
Cases are down, but still high. “The US is now averaging just over 290,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s a higher daily total than in any previous wave of Covid-19, but it’s a steep drop from just a few weeks ago. “
Hospitalizations are down. “The number of hospitalized patients has declined in recent weeks, though it remains higher than during the Delta wave. There are about 110,000 people currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to JHU, a 19% drop from last week.”
Deaths are up slightly. “All those infections and hospitalizations have led to grim daily death tolls. The US is now averaging 2,462 new deaths each day, according to JHU. This is a 3% increase from last week.”
The demonstration began as a “Freedom Convoy,” but it parked in Ottawa and is now a noisy distraction angering locals and alarming officials.
“The whole event has gone beyond just vaccines and it is now about the entire order,” protester James MacDonald said, according to CNN’s Paula Newton. MacDonald has been in Ottawa for more than a week and has no intention of leaving until health measures are dropped.
Demonstrators in other Canadian cities have also joined in, opposing Covid-19 restrictions.
Certain Canadians may be fed up with restrictions and rules, but the country as a whole has taken more kindly to vaccines than the US.
There have also been relatively fewer Covid-19 deaths in Canada.
The US has had nearly 275 deaths per 100,000 Americans, among the highest rates in developed countries.
“Each soul is irreplaceable,” the President said.
Experts have long argued that the true toll of the pandemic is much higher.