California’s mask mandate should not be lifted


Marcela Carrillo

Photo Courtesy of The Chaparral/Marcela Carrillo. A Couple walking their dog inside the Palm Desert mall

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the mask mandate implemented on December 2021 would be lifted for the vaccinated on Feb. 15, 2022, stirring up health and controversial propaganda amongst Californians. This will be the second time California has raised the mask mandate for vaccinated citizens. Mask mandates were lifted on July 15, 2021, as COVID-19 cases slowed down. However, five months later, masks were again set as a requirement. Now, in a few days, masks will be lifted again. Will California handle the COVID-19 surges yet to come, or will we again fall under the mandatory masks?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, masks have been diligently enforced amongst the population. In the beginning, people felt suffocated and hated the idea of wearing a face-covering twenty-four seven. Meanwhile, others got used to the mandatory rule in fear of contracting the virus. And two years later, there are still debates and debacles surrounding the 3-ply-masks and the mutating growth of COVID.

As a vaccinated Californian, several thoughts have been swirling inside my brain after hearing about the mask mandate being lifted: “How do we exactly know that only the vaccinated will be maskless?” On July 15, 2021, California lifted the mask mandate one year after entering lockdown. This gave the vaccinated Californians the “freedom” to choose whether they would be wearing a mask or not. In spite, the unvaccinated decided to join the “freedom” they lacked, causing COVID surges to erupt. So how will we be able to distinguish the vaccinated from the unvaccinated? One may argue that the COVID-19 vaccination cards will be a viable source of securing that one is vaccinated. According to USA Today, fake vaccination cards have been proven to be administered throughout the United States, marking it as fraud and illegal to purchase or sell a fake vaccine card.

In Baltimore, Maryland, a man was charged for mail fraud after purchasing 6,000 false vaccination cards and selling them on social media. Forbes has reported that about 6% of U.S adults may know somebody using a fake vaccination card. Although California may want to lift the mask mandate, there are plenty of reasons as to why we should continue wearing our masks.

Photo Courtesy of The Chaparral/Marcela Carrillo. From left to right; Daisy Lopez, Natalie Houston and Melanie Del Cid; friend group masked up despite knowing one another. (Marcela Carrillo)

One reason is the ongoing virus looming over the world. COVID-19 is a virus that is here to stay. That does not mean that it won’t ever get under control, but in the meantime, we as humans need to take those extra precautions to ensure a positive and healthy community. An underlying issue may arise once we start disbanding the rules that kept us safe and healthy.

Another reason it may be early for the mandate to be lifted is the arrival of The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, as it is set to return in April. After postponing and canceling Coachella Fest for two years, the owners agreed to organize the festival this year. They’ve already begun distributing the lineup of artists performing. And with the loss of revenue that Coachella Fest endured, I can understand why the owners and organizers decided to plan the music festival this year. Nevertheless, this music festival has held records by the attendance they receive every year, and since Coachella Fest is celebrated outdoors, masks may not be enforced to wear. Coachella Fest is held annually in Indio, Calif., and with the anticipation of fans seeing their idols roaming about in the streets of the Coachella Valley or during the festival itself poses harm to the individuals who reside in the Coachella Valley.

It is no doubt that Coachella Fest will have the biggest attendance yet following the 2-year-closure. Still, residents living in the Coachella Valley will need to worry regarding the attendees staying in the Valley throughout April. Many individuals will be arriving in California from different states and countries, imposing risks as traveling out of state and traveling from another country; may contribute to the rise of COVID cases. I live in the Coachella Valley, and although many people may abide by the rules set in place, there will always be those individuals creating harm. How will we, as residents, be ensured that attendees will be precautious? Coachella Fest will be the most prominent hotspot of the Coronavirus, and with asymptomatic people around, it is best to mask up and follow the CDC guidelines.

I can’t entirely agree with California lifting the mask mandate. There are about 30% of unvaccinated Californians who are unwilling to get vaccinated, dismissing the safety of others. While numerous people may choose to remove their masks, I will abide by the previous mask mandate. I am not only thinking about myself, but I am also thinking about my community and my family. Health protocols are a thing, and health diseases exist, so I would not want to inflict harm on those I deeply care about, particularly with a deadly virus like the Coronavirus.