More city, state leaders make decisions on lifting, holding COVID-19 restrictions

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While some city and state leaders have decided to do away with mask mandates and proof of COVID-19 verification, others have maintained or extended restrictions. 

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Friday that the city would no longer require patrons and staffs its restaurants, gyms and other indoor locations to show proof of vaccination. 

MASK MANDATES TO BE LIFTED IN NEW MEXICO, WASHINGTON

The leader cited recent health data showing Boston has a 4% community positivity rate and seven-day average of adult COVID-19 hospitalizations of 196 per day.

In addition, Boston has a nearly 91% occupancy rate of adult ICU beds.

She had previously said that the requirement would be lifted when the community positivity rate fell below 5%, fewer than 95% of ICU beds were occupied and the seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations fell below 200 per day.

Michelle Wu speaks to supporters after winning her race for Mayor of Boston, to become the first woman and first person of color to be elected to the office, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., November 2, 2021. 

Michelle Wu speaks to supporters after winning her race for Mayor of Boston, to become the first woman and first person of color to be elected to the office, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., November 2, 2021. 
(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

“The public health data shows that we’re ready to take this step in our recovery,” Wu said in a press release. “This news highlights how much progress we’ve made in our fight against COVID-19 thanks to vaccines and boosters – which have always been our most effective weapon against the pandemic.”

Many others leaders are following suit and in Washington state the vaccine verification or proof of a negative COVID-19 test will no longer be required for attendance at large events. 

In addition, the state’s mask mandate will lift in most places – including at schools and childcare facilities – beginning on March 21. 

On Thursday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also lifted her state’s mask mandate for indoor public spaces.

However, while some have acted to ease regulations – including in California, Connecticut, Oregon, Illinois and other states – others extended mandates. 

MORE STATE, LOCAL LEADERS DIAL BACK COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS AS CASES FALL

In Newark, New Jersey, Fox 5 reported Thursday that the mayor had issued an order relaxing the city’s proof of vaccination requirement for businesses, but would still require proof of either vaccination or a negative test. 

In addition, Mayor Ras Baraka extended the mask-wearing requirement for all indoor public facilities through at least Feb. 28. 

To the south, Navajo Nation – which extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona – is maintaining a mask mandate and President  Jonathan Nez said the tribe must do everything it can to help those who are treating the afflicted. 

“Please be very cautious, encourage your elders to take precautions and continue to pray,” he said in a statement Friday.

Democratic Governors Are Ditching Covid Rules

In New York, where the omicron variant began infecting huge numbers in December, a statewide indoor mask mandate for businesses has ended. 

On Friday, state health officials said it would not enforce its mandate requiring health care workers to get COVID-19 boosters in light of concerns about staffing shortages.

“While we are making progress with 75% of staff received or are willing to receive their booster, the reality is that not enough healthcare workers will be boosted by next week’s requirement in order to avoid substantial staffing issues in our already overstressed healthcare system,” state health commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement.

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New York already requires health care workers to get vaccinated, with exemptions for workers who have a medical reason for not being eligible to receive the shot. 

Bassett said officials would take another look at the booster mandate in three months and California, Connecticut and New Mexico have announced plans to require boosters for health care workers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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