As President Joe Biden continues to delay lifting COVID-19 restrictions, and the November midterm elections loom, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told CNBC that Democrat governors of several East Coast states worked together to drop school mask mandates.
“We worked on this together as governors throughout the region,” Lamont told CNBC’s Squawk Box Thursday. “We thought this is a good time.”
New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts all similarly announced an end to school mask mandates, with eight Democrat-run states in total either lifting the mandates or making plans to do so in the coming weeks.
“I'd love to see whatever internal polling went around the Democrat Party last week — it's certainly no coincidence that Democrat-run states are dropping mandates as fast as they can,” Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., told the Daily Mail.
Lamont told CNBC that cases are going down in his state and in his fellow northeast governors’ states. Connecticut cases have fallen 70% over the past two weeks, and cases in neighboring New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts also decreased by 71%.
“Our infection rates are back to low, hospitalizations are way down,” he said. “Most importantly, people have the ability to keep themselves safe now.”
COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots are now widely available, and these northeastern states are among the most vaccinated in the country, with more than 70% of residents fully vaccinated in each.
In a break from her peers, Gov. Kathy Hochul allowed New York’s overall mask mandate to expire on Wednesday but kept the mandate in-place for schools.
“It's not the science, I promise you,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said during an interview with KTSA radio in San Antonio on Wednesday. “It's the political winds. Democrats are seeing that the American people are fed up; they've been fed up. Now they're starting to see how much damage that's going to cause them, likely, in November.”
Though it remains at 52% in favor, a Monmouth University poll conducted at the end of January saw a steep 11-point drop in the number of people who were in favor of mask mandates from September.
Seven out of every 10 American voters surveyed agreed with the statement that “it’s time we accept COVID is here to stay, and we just need to get on with our lives.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been reluctant to revise its guidance, however, and the agency still recommends that all children wear masks in schools. The CDC also still mandates that masks be worn on planes and trains.
While the president continues to follow the CDC’s lead, the New York Times reported yesterday that the White House has been meeting with a wide array of health experts to plan the administration’s changing pandemic response.
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