The Biden administration has vowed to reinstate
Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) mask mandates as the winter season nears. Its renewed commitment to muzzling Americans comes after the Democrats' purported midterm election "victory" in the Senate.
At the East Coast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) issued recommendations for New Yorkers in at least five counties at the Empire State to mask up indoors.
"Wear a mask indoors in public and on public transportation. Stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines. Get tested if you have symptoms. If you are at high risk for severe illness, consider taking additional precautions," the public health agency said. (Related: Are Biden and the Democrats gearing up to push more mask mandates following another stolen election?
At the West Coast, Los Angeles County is also issuing mask mandates
as it experiences a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer pointed to two emerging subvariants that are responsible for this surge. The BQ1 and BQ11 subvariants – both coming from the B11529 omicron variant – now represent about 17 percent of all specimens that undergo genetic sequencing for identification.
"Many are predicting these strains, which are highly transmissible, are likely to drive an increase in cases this fall and winter," Ferrer said, suggesting that people should take the new "bivalent" COVID-19 booster shot.
According to Ferrer, the county has seen a "slowly but steadily increasing" COVID-19 case counts
since the start of November. If the average weekly case numbers rises to 100 per 100,000 residents, health officials will once more "strongly recommend" mask-wearing indoors. Currently, masking up indoors is voluntary unless an individual location or business requires face coverings.
Other countries also seeing a return of mask mandates
The U.S. is not the only country considering a return of mask mandates as winter approaches.
Advocacy groups in Canada such as Ontario School Safety (OSS) are calling for face coverings for school children ahead of an anticipated COVID-19 case surge. Heather Hanwell, one of the parents behind OSS, said they are planning to take legal action against the province of Ontario to ensure compulsory masking returns to schools.
"We understand the pressures to want to get back to what we call normal. We want Ontario to open for business [and] open for learning," she said. But Hanwell insisted that face masks, coupled with ventilation and hand-washing, "can keep things open" in the province.
The Land Down Under is also gunning for a return of face covering for children.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, the premier of Australia's Queensland state, warned citizens to brace for a supposed "fourth wave" of COVID-19 by masking up and rolling up their sleeves for the boosters.
"The fourth wave that we have been expecting now, we believe, has arrived. But no one should be alarmed," she said. "We have been living with this virus for a long time, and Queenslanders know what to do."
University of South Australia
professor Adrian Esterman echoed Palaszczuk's call.
"The onus is now on the other states and territories to follow Queensland's lead and upgrade their health advice and, if necessary, reimpose some public health measures like face mask advice," said Esterman, who chairs the university's biostatistics and epidemiology departments. "Surely, mandating face masks on public transportation is not that difficult."
for more stories about COVID-19 mask mandates.
Watch Texas-based psychiatrist Dr. Stefani Reinhold comment on COVID-19 mask mandates in schools
on "The HighWire."
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