Blue State Governors Dump Mask Mandates

Eight blue states announced plans this week to end their statewide or school mask mandates by the end of March.


Eight blue state governors, including the governors of the largest Democratic states – California, New York, and Illinois – across the country rolled out plans to end their statewide masking policies this week. Only twelve states still required school mask mandates at this point in the pandemic.

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) announced she’s lifting New York State’s indoor mask mandate and proof of vaccination requirements for entering businesses.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ended his state’s school mask mandate for students and employees. Murphy only barely survived a closer-than-expected reelection bid in Nov. 2021.
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is expected to announce plans to end the state’s indoor mask mandate Wednesday.
  • The Democratic governors of Connecticut, Delaware and Oregon and Massachusetts‘s moderate GOP governor also dropped their school mask mandates citing a decline in cases.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is moving slower than his counterparts, declaring plans to lift California’s indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people.
  • The leading edge of the blue-state trend was Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), who declared the COVID emergency “over” in December 2021 and lifted all of Colorado’s remaining statewide restrictions.
  • By contrast, 21 Republican-led states (plus Louisiana, a red state with a Democratic governor) had dispensed with almost all their COVID restrictions by May 2021.
  • Virginia’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin (R) called for mask-optional policies in schools just two weeks ago, which the Washington Post characterized as “stok[ing] division.”


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times covered a “wave of polls” that demonstrated Americans’ frustrations with COVID restrictions and a widespread desire for a return to normalcy.
  • The Washington Post pointed out that COVID deaths are higher now than at any point since the vaccine rollout last year. It attributes the high death rate to Omicron’s contagiousness and the worst-hit groups are the elderly, the immunocompromised and the unvaccinated.
  • Josh Barro wrote in his Very Serious SubStack that these governors are just “running where the COVID ball is going” by reducing restrictions in line with falling cases, although he believes school mask mandates have long outlived their purpose.



  • National Review used the viral photos of Georgia gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams’ mask hypocrisy to remind readers of the long history of Democrats’ double standards on the issue.
  • Commentary called out Dr. Leana Wen, a prominent cable news COVID hawk, for her dishonesty over claiming “the science has changed” to justify her abrupt about-face on the value of COVID restrictions.
  • The Washington Free Beacon published an excellent mashup of the media reactions to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) lifting mask mandates two weeks ago and Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) doing the same this week. Youngkin was attacked as an anti-Science villain while Murphy’s decision was portrayed as “driven by science” and “trying to get back to normal.”

Author’s Take

It’s almost like a memo went out to all the Democratic COVID hawks in governors’ mansions across the country. “We’re getting killed in the polls, these restrictions need to end ASAP.” The New York Times article on Americans’ frustrations with COVID restrictions may not be the full story. Democrats’ internal polling for the 2022 midterms must be dire if these COVID extremists are finally ready to give up the ghost.

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci now believes the “full-blown pandemic phase” of COVID-19 is coming to a close. Nobody seems to have told teachers union boss Randi Weingarten, however. On Tuesday Weingarten called for school mask mandates until “there is no transmission” in schools – even if all students are vaccinated.

Then again, seven Democratic governors dropping mask mandates within 48 hours of each other is a heck of a coincidence. For all we know, maybe a memo did go out.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022