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Gavin Newsom made the decision to end the mask mandates in California by Feb.15. This means that mandates put in place will become more relaxed, and he cited recent evidence of low infection rates as justification. With this announcement, many people are rejoicing and seeing this as a sign that the end of the pandemic is near. However, no one is considering the potential dangers that this decision poses. 

While the mask mandates are being lifted for vaccinated people in San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, people will still be expected to wear their masks if they are unvaccinated or in places like nursing homes. On the other hand, cities such as Los Angeles are not partaking in the lifting due to concerns that there will be another spike in such concentrated areas. 

As we reach the end of the omicron variant surge, now is not the time to sit back and relax. Although cases have been decreasing in California by 67% and 70.1% of citizens are fully vaccinated, there is still a chance that the upcoming summer months could spell disaster for those who are immunocompromised and communities with high concentrations of unvaccinated people. Not to mention, as people begin to venture outside without their masks and mingle, there’s a higher chance of new variants popping up and wreaking havoc on the population again.

Especially in schools 一 where Newsom plans on relaxing mandates next 一 mask mandates should not be lifted. Teachers have already suffered the most at the hands of the pandemic while navigating online education and dealing with mass absences. Lifting mask rules for schools will only exacerbate these problems to the point of no return. 

People need to understand that lifting mask mandates does not mean that the pandemic magically goes away. There is still a large population in the U.S. that does not believe in the efficacy of vaccines and have therefore chosen to not receive them. Unvaccinated people are going to continue creating hubs where the virus runs rampant, and we will never truly see the end of this pandemic. 

Everyone is desperate to be done with this pandemic and move on with their normal lives, so it’s understandable that many are celebrating this decision. However, once mask mandates are lifted, that dream of ending the pandemic is pushed further away. In order to truly fight through this pandemic, we must consider all aspects of this decision and its potential consequences.

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