Politics Surgeon General backs localized mask mandates
The Mask Mandate Debate Is Back. Here’s What to Know.
Amid the Delta-fueled wave of U.S. COVID cases, universal mask mandates are back on the table and as politically fraught as ever.A week ago, Los Angeles County became the first major metropolitan area to reinstate a mask mandate in indoor public spaces for both unvaccinated and vaccinated residents. And amid a nationwide surge of new COVID-19 fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant, America’s largest county isn’t the only place where universal mask mandates are back on the table. The Delta wave has thus reignited the already politically charged debate over face mask mandates.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he supports county governments reinstating mask mandates as a way to combat the spread of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people.
During a Sunday interview on ABC News's "This Week," Murthy said local governments have flexibility to make their own decisions regarding masks and other measures.
Current CDC guidelines don't put limits on counties making their own rules, Murthy said. For instance, last week Los Angeles County health officials responded to an uptick in cases by reimposing an indoor mask mandate on everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
Huckabee Sanders vows not to impose mask, vaccine mandates if elected governor of Arkansas
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday said that she would not impose any mask mandate or vaccine requirements if she is elected governor of Arkansas in 2022. The Republican gubernatorial candidate made the promise during an interview on "Fox & Friends" in response to a Washington Post report saying that top White House aides and officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussed potentially updating mask guidance amid new surges of the highly transmissible delta COVID-19 variant.
"It's very reasonable for counties to take more mitigation measures, like the mask rules that you see coming out in LA. And I anticipate that will happen in other parts of the country, too," Murthy said.
"Counties certainly have the right to put mitigation measures back in place, and that's not contradictory to the guidance the CDC has issued," Murthy added.
"Counties are going to continue to make these decisions."- This Week (@ThisWeekABC) Dr. Vivek Murthy tells that counties reinstating mask mandates are "basing their data and their decisions off of what we learned over the last year."
Public health experts largely agreed that L.A.'s decision to reimpose an indoor mask mandate was a wise decision but said it wouldn't make much difference without wider implementation in the areas of the country with extremely low vaccination rates.
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There's not much political will to reimpose mask mandates in the areas that need it the most.
Many Republican governors have banned local jurisdictions from implementing mask policies.
But they have also banned vaccination passports in any form, including from private employers, emphasizing that vaccination is a personal choice.
Critics of LA's move, including the county sheriff's department, said it was not rooted in science, and governments shouldn't be forcing fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks, even if they have the authority to do so.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director on Friday encouraged local officials across the country to consider similar preventative measures but indicated the agency would not be changing its own masking recommendations that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most settings.
But CDC does not write laws, and their guidelines are just recommendations for people to follow. As a result, mask recommendations are technically still in effect for unvaccinated people, but it's largely based on the honor system.
Walensky warned the rapid spread of the delta variant is worrisome and cautioned "this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated."
Biden administration officials are grappling with how to protect the unvaccinated while continuing to emphasize that vaccinated people remain at much lower risk of infection.
U.S. officials have been sounding the alarm for weeks that the delta variant is a risk to areas with low vaccination rates, which could undermine the hard-earned progress of driving cases down.
Democratic-led cities efforting for defunding police spent millions on private security .
Democratic-led cities efforting for defunding police spent millions on private security for mayorsAs crime surges across the nation, Democratic mayors in approximately 20 U.S. cities that have called for defunding the police have received millions in taxpayer funds towards their own personal security details, according to a new report. New data compiled by Forbes auditor Open the Books through Freedom of Information Act requests reveals that the city of Chicago, for example, spent $17.3 million between 2015 and 2020 to guard "unnamed city officials.