District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that individuals in D.C. will have to wear masks indoors regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status starting this Saturday.
“Effective Saturday, July 31 at 5:00 a.m., all people over the age of two must wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status,” read a Thursday tweet by Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia.
ICYMI — Details on the new COVID-19 mask mandates implemented by the Mayor ⬇️
‼️ Don’t forget to check out the incentives being offered for DC youth who get vaccinated ‼️ (1/2) pic.twitter.com/gcSW7tcHzt
— Phil Mendelson (@ChmnMendelson) July 29, 2021
In a Thursday news conference where Bowser told the public about the district’s new order, she explained that the decision to reinstate a mask mandate was taken on the recommendation of DC Health, which considered recent coronavirus trends.
WATCH LIVE: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser holds an update on the District’s response to COVID-19.
— 7News DC (@7NewsDC) July 29, 2021
“I know D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines and they will embrace this,” Bowser said, expressing optimism about the new changes she instituted, according to The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer.
According to COVID-19 data aggregated by The New York Times, D.C. has seen a gradual increase in the number of cases it faced since the early days of this month.
The rise in cases, however, is still very low when compared to the numbers from January, which was one of the worst pandemic months for the district.
“Cases have increased recently and are high. The number of hospitalized Covid patients has also risen in the Washington, D.C. area. Deaths have remained at about the same level,” the Times reported.
Only 52 percent of the district’s residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the data show.
Bowser’s mask mandate drew swift backlash from D.C. residents on social media.
“I’m going to go spend some hard-earned money at businesses in Arlington and Montgomery County this weekend @MayorBowser, because this is an incredibly stupid thing to do,” one Twitter user wrote.
I’m going to go spend some hard-earned money at businesses in Arlington and Montgomery County this weekend @MayorBowser, because this is an incredibly stupid thing to do. The CDC average 7-day death rate for D.C. is… zero deaths. https://t.co/PgGOLn0d3d
— Kevin ? Glass (@KevinWGlass) July 29, 2021
“DC has literally had TWO coronavirus deaths in the last 2 weeks. Expect nothing less than the hall monitor capital of the world,” journalist Saagar Enjeti tweeted.
DC has literally had TWO coronavirus deaths in the last 2 weeks. Expect nothing less than the hall monitor capital of the world https://t.co/AqyJX9Geic
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) July 29, 2021
Some Twitter users accused Bowser’s mask mandate of undermining the vaccination drive.
“Indicating vaccines are useless is not how you convince people vaccines work,” political commentator Erielle Davidson wrote.
“Thanks anti-vaccine people…,” another added.
Other users came out in support of Bowser’s mask mandate.
“It is what it is. Let’s keep folks safe. Wear your masks,” activist Charlotte Clymer wrote.
“The infection rates are the highest they’ve been since May. Deaths lag cases,” another user tweeted.
Though the number of deaths in D.C. has been relatively low compared to the district’s worst months, there has been a 13 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 14 days.
Bowser’s new mask mandate follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own reversal on masks, which came this Tuesday.
Citing delta variant concerns, as previously reported by The Western Journal, the CDC updated its COVID-19 guidelines this week.
“To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission,” the new guidelines stated.
The CDC guidelines in themselves are non-binding.
Nonetheless, they wield influence over the COVID-19 policies of local governments, which take into consideration what the CDC has to say on matters such as the pandemic.
The delta variant is an iteration of the virus first discovered in India, capable of breaking through some vaccinated individuals.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky described the variant in a news briefing on July 22 as “more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains.”
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