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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

There is no need for rash COVID-19 mandates

Illustration+by+Madison+Ware
Illustration by Madison Ware

On Aug. 17, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 variant of COVID-19 after cases surged in Michigan. This new strain, BA.2.86, has been reported in multiple countries, including Denmark and Israel. Within the same week, Press Secretary of the White House Karine Jean-Pierre discussed information regarding a new vaccine being released in September.

Following this announcement, Hollywood studio Lionsgate and Morris Brown College in Georgia reinstated mask mandates and social distancing restrictions on events and employees despite no reported cases relating to the new strand. These precautions included canceling first-week events and parties to avoid large crowds, temperature checks when arriving on campus, contact tracing and vaccine mandates for in-person attendees. 

These news releases sound eerily familiar, and while other colleges may be ready to jump the gun, Texas State should not follow suit because of the lasting impact the restrictions had on students’ overall mental health. Staying updated regarding COVID-19 and maintaining safety proceedings at your own risk is essential; however, the extreme measures large companies and colleges are enforcing are a mistake. 

During the pandemic, students were isolated and forced to miss out on milestones such as prom and graduation. What started as a two-week precaution became a years-long societal break that adversely impacted everyone. Mental health surveys saw a 6.1% increase in anxiety, and suicide rates increased to a spot on the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. for ages 15-44. 

While each individual should remain conscious of their different health risks, the results and studies produced during the initial pandemic cannot be ignored. A comprehensive study conducted by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that the mask mandates were ineffective and that places with mask mandates versus no mandates were affected the same regardless. This study was not only conclusive in these findings at a community level but at a multi-country regional level as well as across different viruses, including influenza and COVID-19.

“There were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection,” Leading author of the study Tom Jefferson said. 

After this study was released, a columnist at the New York Times concluded that the mask mandates did not work. While masks may have been beneficial on a personal level, the overall evidence shows that “when it comes to the population-level benefits of masking, the verdict is in: mask mandates were a bust.”

While COVID-19 is still being dealt with, society is on the road to recovery. We must move away from the regretful pandemic mistakes officials made on our behalf. We have come out of this pandemic worse for wear and should not be subjected back to something that negatively impacted student lives. 

-Megan Stanford is an international relations senior

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