Republican governors roll back mask mandates as the coronavirus spreads out of control

Iowa Kim Reynolds, eleven Deny mask delegates As a “feel good” measure, it issued a limited order this week, as its state surpassed 2,000 deaths from the Coronavirus. Senior US Senator Charles E. Grassley, 87, said Tuesday It was tested positive Regarding the virus, she said, “It feels good.” And a group of Midwestern rulers from both parties, in A. Shared video title, Stressed the widespread distribution of Vaccine He was too far away and advised their constituents that returning to normal sometime next year would require first surviving the holidays.

Each of them said, respectively, “Hide.”

Among them was the governor of Ohio. Mike DeWine, a Republican Retreated On mandating a sweeping mask earlier this year, but recently stepped up enforcement of a statewide order instituted this summer. On Tuesday, DeWine announced a 21-day statewide curfew.

Outside the Midwest, rules regarding mask use are being tightened in Utah, North Dakota and West Virginia, all of which recorded record cases at least once last week, according to Washington Post data. Other Republican-led states, such as Maryland, are Various restrictions escalate.

The mask arrived when the nation faced a preview of what a deadly winter might bring, with the number of deaths soaring and the number of cases soaring. At least 159,000 new cases were reported on Tuesday, and more than 77,000 people remain in hospital. In a sign of growing concern about how President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the results of this month’s election may weaken the nation’s response to the coronavirus at a critical juncture, leaders of three major medical societies urged his administration to cooperate with President-elect Joe. Biden transition team.

Close to some of the Republican conservatives who recently created mask mandates said the expectation of a more active federal response under Biden provides cover for state leaders who fear backlash from lawmakers in their party, as well as from Trump’s base. Some on the front lines are now citing Trump’s electoral defeat as an opportunity for governors in his party to assert a modicum of independence.

Meanwhile, other Republican governors have reacted to this month’s Democrat victory by marking it, indicating how resisting the president-elect’s more aggressive approach could become a primary test of die-hard Republicans eager to carry the mantle of Trump. . South Dakota. Christie’s office. Noem He said It will not impose a federal mandate. Mississippi State. Tate Reeves Pledge To stand in the way of business closing efforts in his state.

No Republican ruler embodies the party’s tormented response to masks more than Doug Borghum of North Dakota.

Six months ago, I am They fought back tears He also begged the residents not to stigmatize the face coverings. At a press conference in May, the Republican pleaded: “I ask for your sympathy and understanding. I cried again last month.” Recognition His country is “caught in the middle of a Covid storm”.

But only sympathy and understanding provided inadequate shelter from the storm that ravaged North Dakota, which recently suffered from Number of fastest growing cases in the country. Hospitals are so overcrowded that some ask for infected workers but don’t show symptoms of continuing to treat coronavirus patients.

Over the weekend, Burgum replaced tears with government tools, implementing a statewide mask mandate. Face coverings are now in demand inside companies and in indoor public places, as well as in outdoor locations where physical spacing is not realistic. Failure to comply could result in a penalty of up to $ 1,000, although some local authorities are actually refusing to enforce the order.

Borghum, a former Microsoft executive whose net worth is estimated at $ 1.1 billion, was for several months among Republican governors who did not despise masks and yet abandoned states statewide. They even stressed personal responsibility Evidence mounted The blanket rules were associated with a slower rate of virus growth.

The Borghum transformation is perhaps the clearest example of the broader transformation underway in a few Republican-controlled states. Healthcare workers say Borghum and other Republicans now have a chance to pursue science rather than the whims of the White House.

“Everyone was assuming the governor would only act with masks after the election, and here we are,” said Tessa Johnson, president of the North Dakota Nurses Association. A Burgum spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

In West Virginia, where he was the Republican governor. Jim Justice recently tightened state mask requirements, and some medical experts who advised him have been vocal about forces working against the stringent application of public health precautions.

Marsh, of West Virginia University, the state’s chief health officer and coronavirus coordinator.

Marsh said wearing masks as well Centralized outbreak control That 90 percent compliance will have a greater impact on slowing the spread of the virus than the arrival of the vaccine. He said, “We think we have a vaccine in our hands today, and it’s called masks and physical distancing.”

Paul Carson, an infectious disease specialist at North Dakota State University who has been advising Borghum on the state’s response, said the states have not been shown to be producing widespread compliance in all settings. However, the escalating crisis in North Dakota made it necessary to demand new sacrifices.

“It became clear to everyone that our health systems were under severe stress to the point of collapse, and our nurses were screaming,” Carson said.

The late reaction conflicts with preventive measures taken in other countries. North Dakota went into effect on Saturday, as the state recorded 2,270 new cases of the virus. Also over the weekend, South Korea began enforcing purposes of non-compliance with mask requirements with 205 new daily cases recorded – the first time since September that the number of one-day cases in the country exceeded 200.

South Korea, which has a population of 70 times the population of Great Plains, has recorded fewer than 500 deaths from the Coronavirus, while North Dakota has seen nearly 800.

George L. Wehbe, professor of health administration and policy at the University of Iowa and co-author of Prof. The June study It was found that the imposition of masks in public places is associated with a lower daily growth rate of the Corona virus.

Iowa Director Brad Anderson said the state’s new rules signal to the public that we are “facing a crisis we’ve never seen before in the state”. But he said it also bears a lesson for leaders who have bet for months on residents’ goodwill.

“It is not enough to expect people to do the right thing without leadership from the top,” Anderson said.

The new rules are particularly noteworthy because they came into effect shortly after voters rejected a second term for Trump, who treated wearing masks as a political sign. A Republican, in frequent contact with Dwyane, has said that a more coherent national strategy could make it easier for the centrist to navigate the intersecting political currents that sometimes frustrated his response. Dan Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine, said the tightening restrictions were not related to the election results and instead reflected efforts to overcome epidemic population stress.

Assistant to the Utah government. Gary R. Herbert, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations, said that the longer the president refuses to accept the election results, the longer he stays on responding to the Coronavirus in states where it has widespread support. While Herbert favored local control, he had recently resorted to statewide delegation of the mask because his “appeal to people’s basic sense of decency” was not working, the aide said, adding, “People still don’t believe in the science behind the masks.” Protesters appeared at the governor’s house over the weekend to denounce the measure.

Instead, the conservatives, who avoided protests from the population, faced a revolt within their ranks. Three North Dakota health officials appointed by Borghum have resigned during the pandemic. The last to emerge, Paul Mariani, departed the day after the governor retreated and withdrew an order that would have required close contacts with infected people for quarantine. Mariani declined to comment on the new mask’s mandate. His replacement, Dirk Wilk, did not respond to a question about the new system.

Chet Bullert, the Majority Leader in the North Dakota House of Representatives, said the mandate would test Trump’s imprint on his party’s response to the virus. “Certainly this is Trump’s term, and definitely people have been following in Trump’s footsteps on masks,” he said.

But he added that the president’s ability to fuel opposition to public health interventions drew on deeper political traditions in the northern Great Plains.

“There was a mindset that you had to do these things on your own,” said Bullert. “It served people well when settlement was happening in North Dakota in the late 1800s and through the 20th century.”

Even with a deadly pathogen present in the state this century, Polart added, he prefers a lighter touch. He said, “I’ve never been a delegation type person.”

Jacqueline Dupre contributed to this report.

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