The surge of the Delta variant, particularly in southern states where the vaccination rates are low, has strained hospitals and stirred a heated debate in schools over mask mandates and bans on mask mandates.
Based on infection rates, the Brown School of Public Health places most southern states, including Florida and Texas, at a red Covid risk level, meaning that more than 25 cases per 100,000 people have been reported in a seven-day moving average. The school advises that these counties and states issue stay-at-home orders or institute rigorous test-and-trace programs to help stop the virus.
If too many people become infected, the virus can be expected to mutate again, perhaps creating a more infectious or dangerous variant than Delta.
Yet governors in states where Covid is surging continue to ignore science and show little regard for human life.
For example, Gov Ron DeSantis, Republican of Florida, has banned mask mandates in schools.
Officials in Florida’s largest district, Miami-Dade County, which opens for students on August 23, are ignoring the governor’s order and safeguarding the lives of their students and teachers anyway.
Elsewhere in the home of Disneyworld, 8,400 students are in quarantine because of Covid in the Hillsborough County Public Schools around and including Tampa Bay, according to a report by FOX-13.
In all, at least eight states—Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah—have enacted laws or issued executive orders prohibiting supposedly independent school districts from requiring students to wear masks.
The good news, at least for people who don’t live in those states, is that about 30 states have left the decision about masking up to local school districts. It has created a situation where different masking directives and rules are in place at different schools, but it represents the power of local control.
The following states have “mask mandates” statewide and require students to wear masks inside school buildings:
- Nevada (mandated on buses, not in school buildings)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico (except fully vaccinated high school students)
- New York
- Washington, D.C.