Opinion: Before We Drop the Mandates, Let’s Drop the Act

by Kaylin Ruiz

Senior Art major Admaris Sanchez.

It’s safe to say that we’re all tired of wearing masks. They’re uncomfortable, hurt our ears, and get way too hot and sweaty after wearing them for too long. And while we hate the constant breakouts that masks create on our faces, it is vital that we put ourselves and our health first, before our comfort. But dropping the mask mandate now is doing just the opposite, especially considering the real reason why they’ve been dropped.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the spread of Covid-19 is still very much prevalent in the U.S. According to statistics from The New York Times, the 7-day average of in the U.S. as of February 13th is 2,465 cases per day. While this number is admittedly lower than the amount of cases we’ve seen previously, especially with the initial introduction of the fast-spreading Omicron variant, jumping to end the mask mandate the minute we see a decline in cases will only harm the public’s health, as we have yet to see this consistently low infection rate lasting for a period of time significant enough to note. 

So let’s be real. This mandate drop wasn’t made in the interest of the public, it was a quick and frankly premature response to the culmination of the many protests and overall anger towards masks since their initial recommendation back in April of 2020. The government essentially succumbed to the pressure of the people’s seemingly insatiable hunger for a false sense of normality.

Even government officials like Governor (D) Steve Sisolak of Nevada, who just recently abruptly dropped its statewide mask mandate along with nearly a dozen other states, have been basically admitting that the only reason they’re dropping the mandates is because of the overwhelming public upheaval. According to a New York Times article on the topic, Sisolak stated: “Students and parents have been clamoring for this for a long time. Our businesses have been asking for this. I think this is the appropriate time.” 

In New York, there has lately been the question of whether to continue requiring masks in schools. According to NBC New York, Governor Kathy Hochul will be revisiting the idea of the school mask mandate being dropped the first week of March, immediately after many students’ President’s week break. Yet, with this surely exciting news, students at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) continue to have their concerns, and are considering still wearing their masks even after the mandate drops.

Estefani Lopez, a senior instrumental student at the school, believes that the recent trend of dropping the mask mandates is not such a good idea.

“Dropping the mandate is not a safe idea because if that’s going to be the case then there has to be a stronger vaccine mandate, and a lot of people aren’t vaccinated yet and it’s putting themselves and others at risk, especially with asymptomatic people,” Estefani said.

Another senior student at FSSA, Kaitlyn Cortez, shared her thoughts on the possible effects of no longer having to wear masks on the public’s perception of the severity of the pandemic.

“It would contribute to the image of normalcy that people are trying to return to. Especially with cases declining, people want to go back to how we were previously living before the pandemic, and because of this, I feel it would also contribute to the idea of how Covid is not as much of a danger as it previously was,” she said. “They would think it’s no longer a danger especially with other factors like the vaccine.”

The question of the motives behind the mandate drop has been lingering on students’ minds as well. Adamaris Sanchez, a senior at the school, shared that she doesn’t feel like the decision was made with the public’s protection and health in mind.

“It’s just being made based on what the book says; scientific evidence and data is more important to follow. There should be amendments made to the mask mandates to be in the best interest of the people, so people can safely interact with each other,” Adamaris said. “No one wants — no one chooses — to wear a mask. No one wants a pandemic, we’re wearing our masks to reach a “true” normalcy.”

Adamaris finalized her point by asking an important question that seems to have been on all of our minds.

“The CDC and the government have demonstrated that they have lowered isolation time in order to get people back to work, so is it really done in our best interest, or only for economic stimulation,” she asks.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those solely of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Bennett as a whole.