Feb 11, 2022 - COVID

D.C. region leaders split on ending mask mandates

Illustration of a question mark wearing a mask.
Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

DMV leaders are split over how quickly to scrap mask mandates, as the Omicron surge rapidly declines and other jurisdictions begin loosening restrictions.

Driving the news: D.C.'s indoor mask mandate is due to expire Feb. 28. Mayor Muriel Bowser said this week her office is considering how to proceed.

  • Maryland's Republican Gov. Larry Hogan asked the state Board of Education to drop the mask mandate in schools, and the Virginia state Senate advanced bipartisan legislation to do the same.

But, but, but: Montgomery County executive Marc Elrich is pushing back against Hogan's request to drop masking now. He wants to first wait until his county is no longer tracking high community transmission of the coronavirus.

  • "I think he would serve us all better if he was a little bit more patient," Elrich told reporters Thursday.

By the numbers: In the District, new coronavirus cases have declined five days in a row, dropping to 22.7 per 100,000 residents.

  • Hospitalizations are down 34% since Feb. 1, at 258 patients.

The big picture: New Jersey's Democratic governor announced this week plans to end the statewide school mask mandate next month, giving some momentum for rolling back pandemic rules.

  • But other states loosening mask restrictions, such as California and New York, are keeping their school mask mandates in place for now.
  • Some counties nationwide have responded with stricter measures as state mandates end.

Zoom in: Bowser said she doesn't expect schools to be the first place where precautions are eased, though she didn't rule out changes to COVID protocols this school year.

  • Virginia is poised to ban school districts from imposing mask mandates after the Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to do so, the AP reports.

Of note: A judge last week temporarily blocked an executive order with the same aim from Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

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