Kyle Reynolds: With vaccines for all, it is time to end mask mandates

Keywords

DEBATE Q
Is it the right time to lift the mask mandate?

There is no reason or justification for states and localities to continue to restrict the freedoms of individuals and businesses.

Vaccines are beginning to become widely available; the fears of so-called “super-spreader events” and unmanageable increases in infection rates associated with the easing of restrictions have largely been refuted; and, perhaps most important, the choice of whether to wear a mask should never have been taken out of the hands of private citizens to begin with.

The most vulnerable segments of our population have now largely been vaccinated and are subsequently at a much lower risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19. And, in Indiana, the vaccine has now been made available to anyone over the age of 16. We are well on our way to achieving herd immunity, and thus, should be well on our way to reopening and lifting restrictions.

There exists a fear among proponents of mask mandates that, as soon as the restrictions are lifted, we will become vulnerable to uncontrollable increases in positivity rates. That’s demonstrably false. Texas and Mississippi, both of which largely removed their COVID-19 restrictions in early March, have seen significant decreases in case numbers. Weeks after removing its mask mandate, Texas experienced its lowest test-positivity rate since the start of the pandemic. And Mississippi experienced its lowest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations since May.

But, perhaps most important, this pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented overreach of governmental entities into the lives of private citizens and businesses. Governors, including Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, and local leaders used their emergency powers to institute months-long mandates and restrictions. These ranged from forcing residents to wear a mask in any public venue to restricting the number of customers businesses would be allowed to serve.

These emergency powers exist, however, to allow for swift unilateral action in the event of a crisis, not to permit those in power to indefinitely usurp liberties and freedoms from private citizens and businesses.

Thankfully, after over eight months, Holcomb—under intense scrutiny from conservatives—finally lifted the statewide mask mandate. Notably, this easing of restrictions comes as the Legislature is actively taking efforts to curb the governor’s emergency powers. Unfortunately, despite state mandates endings, many Indiana counties and cities, including Indianapolis, are choosing to keep restrictions in place.

It’s far past time to return the choice of whether to wear a mask to the people. People who are fearful of contracting the virus or who feel they’re in a high-risk demographic can choose to wear a mask. If any private business owners feel it’s their social responsibility to require customers to wear a mask, that’s their prerogative.

However, it should not fall to government, and certainly not to a single executive, to mandate that such an action be required. Such mandates are blatant infringements upon a person’s right to self-govern in a country founded on the ideals of individualism and freedom.•

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Reynolds is a business student at Indiana University studying economics and public policy analysis. His writing has appeared in The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner and The Daily Caller.Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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6 thoughts on “Kyle Reynolds: With vaccines for all, it is time to end mask mandates

  1. Masks also protect those not wearing them, or not wearing them effectively. It is not just for the wearers protection. There are many rules that must be followed for public safety. Speed limits are an example. Requiring drivers to be of a certain age and passing a test is another. Wearing a mask is such a small, SMALL inconvenience to protect your fellows that “preferring” not to shows the individual to be quite selfish. A sign of the times, I guess.

    1. Why is IBJ publishing an opinion of a “business student” regarding a matter of public health? Kyle thanks for your uninformed opinion but as of April 12th Houston’s phase 1 ICU was 100% full (per Texas Medical Center website). Several of the most populated Texas counties are labeled red or highly vulnerable.

    2. Thank you James and Jonathan… Voice of reason… It is a very SMALL inconvenience. I just flew for the first time in over a year (normally I fly multiple times a month), to visit my 96 year old grandma. I am fully vaccinated, but still was double masked and sanitized. It amazed me how many people weren’t wearing their mask properly and not washing their hands after using the restroom. Disgusting human beings are why “we can’t have nice things”. Protect your neighbor and community and wear a mask. Should it be a mandate, no, but it is/was because common sense doesn’t work.

    3. Right, James E. — reasonable rules that have a COST/BENEFIT analysis associated with them. There’s a reason the speed limit isn’t 5 mph. At 35, 65 or 70 mph, many lives will be lost. But our society has decided the benefits are worth the risks.

  2. Finally someone with some common sense on this issue. All Mayor Hogsett’s orders are doing is continuing to drive commerce away from Marion County. To expect that people are not crossing the county line is pure folly. The Metro Area encompasses all the surrounding counties, not just Marion County, and continuing the mask mandate and restricted hours in just one of those counties accomplishes nothing other than hurting small businesses in Marion County.

    Vaccine deniers that refuse to get the vaccine should not hold up the return to normalcy for the rest of us. If you choose to not get vaccinated and then get COVID, tuff for you, you were warned.

    1. A student with the lack of real life situations is far from common sense. As a business owner, I have felt the burden of those not wearing a mask as we continue to spread the virus. No tuff for you, tuff to all of us.

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