Americans Preemptively Rejecting Renewed Mask Mandates

As new COVID-19 variants raise concerns and lead to a mild uptick in cases, the return of mask mandates is igniting fresh debates over personal freedoms and public health. In a climate of COVID-19 fatigue, many openly question the efficacy and need for renewed mask mandates. Actor Kevin Sorbo’s recent declaration on X, formerly known as Twitter, typifies this skepticism: “I’m not wearing a mask. You can stay home if you don’t feel safe.”

Sorbo is not a lone voice in this sentiment. Conservative commentators like Graham Allen and Liz Wheeler are taking a hard line against new mandates. “I’ll go to jail before I wear a mask!” Allen exclaimed. Wheeler emphasizes personal choice, noting, “If we say NO like we should’ve done in the first place, and refuse to comply, the mandates mean NOTHING.”

While entities like Morris Brown College in Georgia and Hollywood movie studio Lionsgate have reintroduced mask mandates, not everyone is convinced of their necessity. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted, “Americans have had enough COVID hysteria. WE WILL NOT COMPLY!” These sentiments reflect a larger public that increasingly views mask mandates as intrusive and, for some, bordering on what Jordan Peterson called “medical fascism.”

Interestingly, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data suggests that 97% of the U.S. still has hospital admission rates considered low, undermining the urgency for blanket mask mandates. Fox News contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier notes this is “just a normal cycle of this respiratory virus” that shouldn’t necessitate a total return to widespread mask-wearing.

The imposition of mandates often fails to consider the advancements in vaccination and treatment since the pandemic’s onset. This “one-size-fits-all” masking approach disregards Marcus Plescia’s advice that masking rules should be based on publicly available data and individual risk assessments. Plescia, the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), suggests that the public should have a say in “how they want to react and what kind of precautions they want to take.”

Some places with vulnerable populations, like nursing homes, could benefit from masking rules to help protect at-risk persons from airborne infection. But these should be the exception, not the rule. A decentralized, case-by-case approach aligns better with American freedom and individual responsibility ideals.

The repeated calls for new mask mandates seem to be a knee-jerk reaction, often fueled more by panic than by actual data. With the majority of Americans already having some level of antibodies against COVID-19 through vaccination or prior infection, the new normal should involve a more nuanced, individualized approach rather than reinstating broad mandates that many are unwilling to accept.