CARSON CITY, Nevada (LifeSiteNews) – Democratic Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ended a statewide mask mandate Thursday as Democrats across the country turn away from COVID restrictions ahead of the November midterms.
“Students and parents have been clamoring for this for a long time,” he said in a video announcement. “Our businesses have been asking for this. I think this is the appropriate time.”
The abrupt reversal applies to businesses, public venues, and schools, as well as state prisons. Sisolak issued the mandate in September.
The Clark County School District and the Nevada Gaming Control Board have already rescinded respective mask mandates for their schools and casinos, according to the Washington Examiner. The Nevada System of Higher Education also lifted requirements for college campuses Thursday. The Biden administration’s strict mask rules for public transit and air travel remain in effect.
“We have seen a rapid decline in case of numbers coupled with declining hospitalizations; a drop of COVID-19 detected in wastewater, and a broader availability of testing and available treatments,” Sisolak said Thursday. Just 0.01 percent of recent coronavirus cases have required hospitalization or critical care, he added.
But the Democratic governor still encouraged private businesses and local officials to continue imposing masks on students and patrons. “If a particular school board or business wants to go further than what my directive has [stated], then they’re entitled to do that,” he said.
Sisolak has been a staunch proponent of COVID-19 restrictions and last summer approved COVID vaccine mandates for public college students, state workers, prison guards, and healthcare employees.
The governor’s about-face on masks came one day after businesses called on him to drop the statewide mandate. In an open letter, the Nevada branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) told Sisolak that compulsory masking jeopardizes Nevada’s recovery and makes it harder to hire new workers, the Associated Press reported.
“Just about every business in Nevada has a ‘help wanted’ sign on their door,” NFIB State Director Randi Thompson wrote. “We continue to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and the mask mandate contributes to that. Employers tell me that when they interview potential employees, they ask: ‘Will I have to wear a mask? If so, then I won’t take the job.’”
Sisolak faces a tough re-election bid in November, in a race deemed a “toss-up” by The Cook Political Report. Republican challengers include former Sen. Dean Heller and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who has supported vaccine mandates.
Children at a Las Vegas elementary school celebrated the end of Nevada’s mask mandate in a video Friday.
Young students at a Las Vegas Elementary School burst out into cheers after learning they no longer have to wear a mask to school. (📸 @hollandcourtney)pic.twitter.com/ic3fpyUZ4c
— KUSI News (@KUSINews) February 11, 2022
Various studies, including large randomized controlled trials, have shown that mask requirements do not stop the spread of COVID-19. Research has also found that masks actively harm children, potentially devastating their cognitive development and causing them to breathe dangerous levels of carbon dioxide.
Democrats’ reversal on mandates
Sisolak joins several other pro-mandate governors who have loosened masking rules in the past week with midterms looming.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that a mask order for schools and daycares would end March 7.
“We are not going to manage COVID to zero. We have to learn how to live with COVID as we move from a pandemic to an endemic phase of this virus,” said Murphy, who previously mandated COVID vaccination for teachers, public employees, and healthcare professionals.
California health officials said Monday that a mask mandate for all indoor settings would end next Tuesday for vaccinated people, except in “high-risk” settings, like public transportation. The unvaccinated will still be forced to mask up, despite recent data around the world showing that “fully vaccinated” people have higher infection rates than the un-jabbed and are driving record COVID spikes.
New York, Oregon, Connecticut, and Delaware have also recently announced end dates for mask requirements.
“Funny how Democrats across the country are getting rid of mask mandates all at once,” South Carolina Republican Rep. Ralph Norman tweeted. “It’s like there’s an election coming soon.”
Funny how Democrats across the country are getting rid of mask mandates all at once.
It's like there's an election coming soon.
— Rep. Ralph Norman (@RepRalphNorman) February 8, 2022