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Some states are beginning to lift mandates on face coverings as the number of Covid-19 cases across the country decline and vaccine programs continue to inoculate hundreds of millions of Americans.

Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds recently lifted all virus restrictions including social distancing, limits on capacity in restaurants, gathering sizes and mask requirements citing an 80% drop in cases and hospitalizations since the fall.

“We need to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to protect Iowans, especially our most vulnerable,” Reynolds said in an interview. “But I also have to balance economies that support the individuals that are trying to sustain a business or sustain their livelihood.” 

However, not all government officials are following the changes.

Mayors of major cities in Iowa including Des Moines and Iowa City say they will not follow the governor’s plans as various strains continue to develop.

Montana is the most recent state to lift restrictions on face masks with the previous order expiring on Feb. 12.

The state’s governor enacted a measure that will effectively protects businesses for being held legally liable on matters related  to the transmission of the virus, saying much of the state’s older population and other vulnerable Montana residents have been vaccinated. 

“When it comes down to it, I trust Montanans, and together we can combat this public health and economic pandemic with personal responsibility and by looking out for one another,” said GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte.

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North Dakota GOP Gov. Doug Burgum cited “personal responsibility” when giving an explanation for allowing the mask mandate in his state to expire on Jan. 18.

Mississippi has not had any face covering mandates since Sept. 30 when the governor ended the requirement but encouraged masks to continue to be worn. 

In Wisconsin, state legislators passed a measure to repeal the mask mandate. However the state’s Democrat governor promptly reissue another mask mandate that is being challenged state’s Supreme Court by Republicans. 

As many conservative-leaning states drop or lessen such restrictions amid the decline in virus numbers, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said, “now is the time to double down” on strategies instead of easing rules amid emerging virus mutations.

Other states with Republican governors and no state-issued mask mandates including Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and South Dakota.

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