Where Do US COVID-19 Restrictions Stand?

Headline Roundup April 8th, 2022

After two years as the biggest U.S. news story, coverage of COVID-19 and public health guidelines is less frequent amid high inflation and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So, what's the current state of U.S. COVID-19 restrictions?

All 50 states have lifted their public mask mandates, and most states and cities have eased or ended requirements that barred unvaccinated people from public spaces. More than 40 states have ended capacity limits and curfews for businesses, as state leaders from both major political parties move to end restrictions. Many federal requirements remain in effect, though. The national mask mandate for public transit will last until April 18 at the earliest, and a federal appeals court this week reinstated the Biden administration's vaccine requirement for federal workers. Last week, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said that people in the U.S. should be "prepared and flexible enough to pivot toward going back, at least temporarily, to a more rigid type of restrictions" if hospitalizations rates rise.

News coverage from right-rated sources often highlights the push to end restrictions and criticizes areas or organizations that have kept restrictions in place despite high vaccinations and low death rates. Some coverage from left-rated sources frames the push to end restrictions as questionable and focuses more on how lifting requirements may create economic disruptions, such as recent flight cancellations due to staff being sick with COVID-19 and out of work.

From the Left

Overseas airlines are having to cancel hundreds of flights as they grapple with coronavirus-related staffing shortages weeks after they ditched rules requiring passengers and staff to mask up in the air.  

The disruptions also come as the CEOs of leading U.S. airlines urge the Biden administration to roll back a federal rule requiring that masks be worn in the sky. 

Masks have not been required on flights operated by budget-friendly, Swiss airline EasyJet since March 27, the airline said in a statement. The move came after the UK removed all travel restrictions earlier in March. 


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From the Center

For two years, governors and health departments across the country have issued orders and recommendations on the status of schools, businesses and public services in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As the delta and omicron variants spread, some states, cities and counties reinstated mandates they had previously lifted. With the omicron wave subsiding, many of those mandates are ending.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order that requires all federal executive branch employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Some states have adopted vaccine mandates that apply to state employees and health care workers....

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From the Right

Congressional Republicans are spearheading legislation that will officially mark the end of coronavirus restrictions in America by prohibiting all federally funded entities from imposing mask mandates and requiring proof of vaccination, according to a copy of the bill obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The America Reopens Act—introduced on Thursday by Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R., Fla) and three other Florida Republicans—would halt all federal-level COVID restrictions, including the transportation mask mandate, such as those in effect for air travel. Any entity that receives federal funding would also be prohibited from requiring proof...

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