On Thursday the states of New Mexico and Washington have moved to lift their indoor mask mandates.
Beginning March 21, the mandates will be lifted in most places in Washington state, including schools and similar childcare-related facilities.
We are making progress in our fight against COVID-19. Because of the declining trends in hospitalizations, we can safely lift most indoor masking mandates on March 21.
Please continue to use caution, be kind to one another, and let’s get through this as one. pic.twitter.com/ZkIoX1QjPn
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) February 18, 2022
Additionally, starting March 1, vaccine verification or documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result will no longer be required for people who want to attend large events.
However, masks will still be required while in healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, and public transit.
Businesses and local governments also still have the ability to require employees, customers, and residents to wear masks.
According to Gov. Jay Inslee, they based the decision on projections of hospital admissions. Additionally, Washington state has experienced a decline in COVID-19 cases since the peak of the omicron variant last January.
“To those who think maybe it should end earlier, all I can tell you is we lost 1,000 people in January to this disease,” Inslee said. “And, when we make decisions, it seems to me we ought to have a recognition of how dangerous and deadly this disease still is after this period of time.”
Non-urgent procedures can also resume starting on Friday.
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham lifted the mask mandate for indoor public places in the state.
With effective vaccines and boosters widely available, and with COVID-19 cases steadily declining and COVID hospitalizations having dropped by 37%, today I am excited to say that New Mexico's indoor mask mandate is officially lifted, effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/CGajddtJHQ
— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) February 17, 2022
Last week, the state’s top health official stated that masks were effective and that New Mexico remains to be in “hot water” as the pandemic ravages on.
The rate of infection in New Mexico has been declining, and Lujan Grisham cited reduced COVID-19 risks as the reason for lifting the mandates.
“It’s not a political decision,” she said. “It’s the right time for us. We are conquering COVID and we’ll keep doing that.”
The governor is up for reelection in the upcoming November polls. She has also been facing a lot of pressure to reconsider public mask requirements as more state and local leaders already lifted such a requirement.
On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke at a White House briefing. There, she said the government is thinking about changing its mask guidelines in the coming weeks.
Both the Biden administration and public heald leaders have revealed that they are cautiously optimistic about how much the number of cases and hospitalizations are falling. However, the daily death count still remains high.