Why Some U.S. States Are Rejecting Lockdown Measures
The number of reported virus cases are increasing in Maryland and New Jersey, but Colorado’s caseload has dropped since November.,
As Omicron cases began to surge in several U.S. states, state leaders were calculating their approaches for a fatigued public.
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, whose state is facing a surge that has led him to expand hospital capacity and limit elective surgeries, won’t enforce any lockdowns or mandates. Mr. Hogan said on the program “Fox News Sunday” that the state is “trying to do everything we can” to get the remainder of its state vaccinated — except for more mandates. “We are not anticipating any lockdowns at all,” he said. “We are not considering them.”
But the state’s uptick is troubling, Mr. Hogan said: “I would say, in the next couple of days, Omicron is going to be the dominant variant in our state.”
Maryland’s seven-day rolling average is 1,340 daily cases. “We are anticipating, over the next three to five weeks, probably the worst surge we’ve seen in our hospitals throughout the entire crisis,” he added.
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey is also battling spiking Covid cases and overwhelmed hospitals, still from the Delta variant.
“Every time you think you got it figured out, it takes a turn you don’t expect,” Mr. Murphy said on the program “Fox News Sunday.” He added, “This is unrelenting. There’s an enormous amount of fatigue out there, as it relates to this virus.”
And while a lockdown isn’t likely, it hasn’t been completely ruled out, he said. “You have to leave it on the table, but I don’t see it,” he said, citing the state’s highly vaccinated population, including residents who have gotten a booster shot. “As fatigued as they are, they are largely accepting of what you need to do to push back at this — and for the time being, at least, we think that’s going to work for us.”
At least 70 percent of New Jersey residents are fully vaccinated, according to a Times database, putting it in the top states for inoculations. Cases have been doubling in recent weeks, with New Jersey reporting a rolling seven-day average of about 5,500 daily cases. Mr. Murphy did not follow New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, in implementing a recent mask mandate, saying it was not necessary at the time. But he said it would remain an option.
Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado on Sunday voiced cautious optimism about his state’s coronavirus numbers, citing a free at-home testing program and vaccinations.
Colorado reported on Saturday a seven-day rolling average of about 1,500 daily cases, down from November numbers. Mr. Polis maintained that he would not impose a mask mandate, something he has said should be up to local officials.
“We have a lot less hospitalizations than we did a few weeks ago,” Mr. Polis said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”
He cited pandemic fatigue as a reason to avoid more restrictive measures for now and said that vaccinations would be enough to keep the variant at bay. “People just don’t react well to this ongoing environment of fear for two years,” Mr. Polis said. He added, “Getting three doses of the vaccine is highly effective and all but negates any risk that you face.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s top Covid adviser, disagreed. “I know it is certainly much more of a crisis of the unvaccinated. But there are other tools besides vaccine, and wearing a mask complements the protection that you get from the vaccine and a boost,” he said Sunday on the ABC program “This Week.”
He urged even those who are vaccinated to wear a mask regularly. “I don’t think you should be in a situation that if you’re vaccinated, you don’t ever have to worry about wearing a mask,” he said.