Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak abruptly dropped a statewide mask mandate Thursday, saying a certain number of people won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine and he doesn’t want to hold the rest of society back.
He joins a growing list of Democratic governors who are dropping divisive pandemic rules as the omicron wave eases, even though federal scientists haven’t relaxed their guidance on masking.
The main impact of Nevada’s change will be seen in schools and businesses, including the state’s famous casinos. The Nevada Gaming Control Board said because of the governor’s order, “individuals are no longer required to wear a mask in public indoor settings in licensed gaming establishments unless a local jurisdiction still imposes such a requirement.”
Mr. Sisolak said employers and school districts can set their own mask policies and said some people will choose to cover their faces for a while longer.
“Just like vaccines, masks are still a great tool we have to slow the spread of the virus. I expect going forward to still see Nevadans and visitors occasionally utilizing masks when they are out in public,” Mr. Sisolak said.
In a news conference, he said some percentage of people won’t get immunized, and he doesn’t want to “hold the entire society back, or the entire economy back, as a result of some people that don’t want to get the vaccine.”
Mr. Sisolak said masks will still be required in certain medical settings and on public transportation.
Governors from California and the Northeast are dropping their mask mandates in February or March as they size up declining hospitalizations from COVID-19 and a pandemic-weary public.
The trend is putting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the awkward position of trailing state-level sentiment.
The CDC said it is reevaluating its guidance but still advises universal mask-wearing in K-12 schools and public indoor mask-wearing in counties with high or substantial spread of the virus — essentially the whole country.
“Our hospitalizations are still high, our death rates are still high,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said this week. “We are not there yet.”
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.