Reversing the mask mandate is not as good as it sounds


Graphic by Angelina Parra

The latest update on the mask mandate has many saying “sayonara” to safety amid Omicron’s reign

Natalie Navarro, Staff Writer

As of Feb. 15, California will be reversing its mask mandate for indoor places due to decreasing COVID-19 cases nationwide. This will be the second time the California government has done so throughout the pandemic, with the last mandate ending in June 2021.

The mask mandate regained traction in the state because of the new Omicron variant. Although not as deadly as its dominant predecessor, Delta, Omicron is more contagious. Vaccination status does not prevent infection; however, it does deter hospitalization and/or death.

While the decreasing cases exude a glimmer of hope that the pandemic will transition into an endemic, there is concern over the mandate ending so soon. The country has seen this story play out before.

Last summer fueled excitement because the vaccine was released to the public. After almost a year and a half of exhausting isolation, having an effective vaccine felt like finding the ultimate holy grail.

However, America got cocky. Around half of the population not only protested against the vaccine, but continued their lives as if nothing was happening. The nation expected very few people to end the pandemic.

The Delta variant was destructive. Those unvaccinated had egregiously high rates of hospitalizations and death. People placed on ventilators were considered hopeless.

The pandemic and its treatments were politicized to the point of no return. We inevitably had to reap the consequences and had no one to blame but ourselves.

As expected, cases especially began to rise at the start of the holiday season. Many Americans disregarded the warnings given by health associations and celebrated the season as normal.

The Omicron variant ran rampant throughout the nation, forcing California to take extreme measures to protect its citizens. The mask mandate was reinstated to prevent further infections. However, Omicron’s damage was already done.

We are fortunate that Omicron caused less death than other variants, though we must also understand that keeping our guard up could have prevented it.