And still, despite the science even more forcefully negating the core assumptions behind his orders, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards won’t let his people go.
Earlier this week, Edwards announced he would continue what has become a maddeningly-routine extension every 28 days of emergency proclamations related to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. These has become whittled down over the just-about two years now, but still provide that school students must wear face coverings unless the district or school in question has an isolation and quarantine policy, state agency heads may order the same in their environs, and local governments may exceed these requirements and some have, such as in New Orleans where masking is required indoors for commercial establishments, anybody age 5 and up must demonstrate vaccination or recent negative testing to patronize certain businesses, and gathering restrictions even if outside remain in place.
He signaled that the Department of Health would revise guidelines on school policies to make these less intrusive, which subsequently elaborated it would continue isolation and quarantining protocols. However, it also presented as alternatives less of each with more masking and testing, acknowledging the difficulty that schools and day care establishments had in following the strict 5-day/10-day Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
But this ignores the most recent research, which underlines that children face close to zero risk to any long-term harm from the virus, and certainly pales in comparison to harms from imposition of nonpharmaceutical interventions. Building upon voluminous work drawing the same conclusion, that not only do face covering mandates do nothing to reduce incidence of the virus within schools, but with a rate of just over 9 out of a million school-aged children having died from it in America this also makes questionable the use of any NPIs for children.
In fact, research increasingly has moved away from assigning mask mandates any credit at all in suppressing virus transmission. Moreover, a CDC study released recently didn’t even find a significant relationship between face covering and virus contraction.
More generally, the literature is growing that typical government virus policy reactions that included NPI such as mask mandates, closures (particularly schools), lockdowns, and limitations on gatherings and travel had no discernable impact on virus mortality rates. While state policy at this time includes only mandates for schools and select state government offices, local governments like New Orleans as noted still impose some of these other restrictions.
Edwards indicated that he could lift the emergency before the next 28-day window arrives. He should do so now, perhaps except for some technical and administrative aspects related to legal questions and procedural government operations that he has begun issuing in a proclamation separate from ones that address NPIs. That especially would include revoking any authority that local governments have to exceed state restrictions.
To date, Edwards consistently has ruled in this area of policy based upon politics, not science, but the politics of the issue now have turned very unfavorably against restrictions, so he finally might relent and finally bring policy in line with the science. Continuing toleration of failed policy that has harmed people economically, psychologically, developmentally is not an option, even for one more day.