Following the federal government’s decision to update guidance around COVID-19 masking, several GOP governors pushed back and said their states won’t be re-imposing mask mandates.
“The CDC’s new guidance suggesting that vaccinated people wear masks indoors flies in the face of the public health goals that should guide the agency’s decision making,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican said in a statement after the CDC’s updated guidance. “The State of Nebraska will not be adopting their mask guidance.”
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that it would recommend masks for high-transmission areas for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The reason why, according to the CDC, is due to the Delta COVID-19 variant.
While CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted that Americans are “tired and frustrated” by the pandemic, mask-wearing is needed in some areas. Several federal agencies and the White House have since mandated face coverings among employees.
“The CDC shifts their position AGAIN,” Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem wrote on Twitter. “South Dakota’s cases remain low. If you’re worried about the virus, you’re free to get vaccinated, wear a mask, or stay home. But we won’t be mandating anything. And the CDC’s inconsistency doesn’t help the American people.”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, said the agency’s latest update is “not grounded in reality or common sense.”
“I’m concerned that this guidance will be used as a vehicle to mandate masks in states and schools across the country, something I do not support,” Reynolds said.
And Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said that “health officials in Arizona and across the country have made it clear that the best protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine.”
“Today’s announcement by the CDC will unfortunately only diminish confidence in the vaccine and create more challenges for public health officials—people who have worked tirelessly to increase vaccination rates,” his statement added.
Other governors indicated they have no desire to bring back masks.
“Gov. Abbott has been clear that the time for government mandating of masks is over—now is the time for personal responsibility,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office said Tuesday in a statement. “Every Texan has the right to choose whether they will wear a mask, or have their children wear masks.”
Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC recommended that people engage in social distancing and mask-wearing. In May, the agency released guidelines saying that vaccinated individuals don’t necessarily need to wear masks.
President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday required that all Veterans Affairs staff receive vaccinations, and on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said in a Twitter post all of its 240,000 employees, will need to wear a mask indoors and physically distance, effective immediately and regardless of vaccination status.
Biden is expected to announce further mandates for federal agencies on Thursday.
In recent weeks, some Republican governors and officials called on residents to get vaccinated. Among them, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey wrote an opinion article urging constituents to get the vaccine, arguing that former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed made it possible last year.
Reuters contributed to this report.