Enough with the COVID-19 mandates

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Marco Verch Professional Photographer | Flickr

Dani Heba, Copy Editor

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the end of the statewide indoor business mask or vaccine mandate implemented in December in response to the omicron variant of COVID-19. It’s time to get rid of all mask and vaccine mandates as well.

Other authoritarian mandates still in place, courtesy of Hochul, include the booster mandate for healthcare workers and SUNY and CUNY students. Additionally, she is allowing local mandates to continue.

New York Mayor Eric Adams has kept former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Key to NYC proof of vaccination requirements in indoor settings in full effect. Adams is also continuing to force public school students to wear masks in class, in addition to private sector employee vaccine mandates.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, government officials and health experts have led with an ineffective policy that has caused irreversible damage to the country.

The COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 had almost no effect on mortality rates, with a Johns Hopkins University study finding that mortality only dropped by 0.2%. Instead, mental health problems have posed an increased threat, small businesses have closed for good and inflation is at a 40-year high due to endless government spending on stimulus checks.

Not following flawed science and ending similarly ineffective measures is key to preventing more unnecessary government harm in peoples’ lives.

For one, children in school have no business being forced to wear a mask. Some health experts have previously suggested that children should wear a mask and that doing so outweighs the harm posed. However, evidence suggests that might not be true.

Research done by Cara Goodwin suggests that children, especially younger ones, are most susceptible to their emotional development being hindered by masks. By not being able to see another’s mouth, children are less likely to recognize and mimic others’ emotions, which can negatively impact how they read cues and behave in social settings.

Out of the 12 million children who have been infected with the virus since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 1,000 have died. At its highest, this would result in roughly .00008% of children dying of COVID-19; this figure is likely even smaller due to the milder nature of omicron and many not even being tested for COVID-19 due to being asymptomatic or thinking it was a cold.

Additionally, statistics from 24 states and New York City find that at most, 1.5% of child COVID-19 cases result in hospitalization.

Unless a child has pre-existing conditions or is severely obese, there is almost no risk of children becoming severely ill, much less dying, of COVID-19. Forcing masks on children hinders emotional development while providing little medical benefit.

Similar logic holds concerning mask mandates in higher-level educational facilities, as CUNY, SUNY and many other college campuses have done.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 5,581 deaths from COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, or .006% of all deaths from COVID-19, have been those aged between 18-29.

It’s important to note that this number includes a significant time where immunization via vaccination and natural immunity was not prevalent.

Additionally, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that over 75% of COVID-19 deaths in fully vaccinated people come from those with at least four risk factors.

With almost everyone at CUNY being fully vaccinated, and most being within the 18-29 age range, it should be safe to assume that there’s almost no risk of serious illness from COVID-19 to most people attending.

As a result, there’s no reason to hinder social interaction by requiring masks when the medical costs are almost nonexistent. That’s not to say people who are still scared or those who have some risk factors can’t wear masks if they so choose.

However, those who are no longer afraid of COVID-19 infection and understand that they are at almost no risk should have the choice whether or not to wear a mask.

Vaccine mandates are pointless. It’s important to evaluate the alleged reason why vaccine mandates were even enacted: to stop the spread of the COVID-19.

However, with omicron being the dominant variant in the United States and many other countries now as well, vaccine efficacy at preventing infection has dropped to around 30% at best, if fully vaccinated with Pfizer Inc.’s two-dose regimen.

If given a booster, this temporarily increases to around 70% protection, but quickly deteriorates and after nine weeks falling back to around 35-45%.

While it’s true that the statistics suggest that vaccines do significantly reduce the odds of one becoming hospitalized due to COVID-19, that impacts people individually. If one sees these statistics and still chooses not to get vaccinated, at the end of the day that is their risk to take.

That risk doesn’t impact anyone else’s chances of getting COVID-19, as both the vaccinated and unvaccinated can spread COVID-19 if they are infected. The benefit of the vaccine lies mostly in one protecting themselves from hospitalization/death, not anybody else.

People deserve to have a say in the matters that impact their well-being, and their well-being alone, without the threat of being unemployed or being unable to get an education.

Additionally, the cost-benefit analysis of giving booster shots to young adults, particularly young men, must be evaluated in light of booster mandates in colleges and the healthcare sector.

Young men, who like most young people are already at very low risk of severe COVID-19, are especially prone to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Compared with the benefits of a COVID-19 booster, the risk might not be worth it for healthy young people assigned male at birth, as some doctors have suggested.

The mandate also puts businesses in uncomfortable situations with their clients that can lead them to lose business. New York City has already permanently shut down at least a third of its businesses due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Requiring businesses to enforce mandates will only continue to punish small business owners.

New York has indeed been drastically overcounting COVID-19 hospitalizations.

People who were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 had not, until recently, been differentiated from people who were admitted because of COVID-19. It turns out that roughly half of the hospitalizations previously counted were not because of COVID-19.

There’s no reason to believe this is different anywhere else in the country either. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, admitted that hospitalization numbers are unreliable.

Additionally, mask and vaccine mandates ignore the fact that people not only developed natural immunity from being infected with COVID-19, including omicron, but the likelihood that breakthrough infections can form what scientists call “superimmunity,” which can help people protect against future infections from COVID-19.

It’s long past time that we recognize that COVID-19 is here to stay and does not pose significant enough of a threat to most people to justify continuing the mandates. Vaccines are available to anyone who wants them, and antivirals are being rolled out as well.

People are ready to move on with their lives. 70% of those surveyed in a Monmouth University poll said that it’s time we accept COVID-19 is here to stay and we move on with our lives, while only 43% support vaccine mandates.

This is exactly why even many Democratic-led states across the country are beginning to follow what Republican-led states like Florida have demonstrated this whole time: that fully dropping restrictions and completely reopening can and should be done.