COVID-19 restrictions relaxed


Michael Kaegi, News Editor

As COVID-19 cases begin to decrease across the country, many states are lifting restrictions in an effort to return to normalcy, but health experts suggest it may be too soon. 

Following the December holiday surge, COVID-19 cases have been on a downward trend, declining in most states. In March, Mississippi and Texas were the first to lift their mask mandates and reopen restaurants to full capacity, with several other states, including Arkansas, Montanana, Iowa, Wyoming, and Arizona, following soon after.

“It is a good start to get things going back to normal, but I hope these lifted restrictions for masks and distancing do not come at the expense of safety. I wear masks whenever I go out in public and make sure I don’t surround myself with people who show symptoms,” said Andrew Book, a senior.


Certain businesses and other establishments still require masks even after Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order on March 5, ending indoor capacity restrictions for public facilities. This has led parents and students to question whether or not schools would fall under this category, and if schools would have the right to mandate masks for all teachers and staff.

“Ours are not changing at this point. If our board votes to have masks as an option, then we will make that adjustment. My anticipation is that we will have masks for the rest of the year,” said Tony Vining, principal.

The school has also decided to go ahead with prom and graduation, which naturally leads to the question of whether or not COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted by then or for the following school year. Vining said that venues have been reopened because of residents being vaccinated, COVID cases going down, and restrictions being lifted. They plan to keep COVID-19 protocols in place for both events.                                                                                   

“We’ve done enough, I believe, through our sporting events, to know and see what it looks like to have crowds in the stands,” said Vining. “I’ve been to other places, like state competitions where there are large groups, to see what those look like and how they ran them, and feel comfortable that we can be safe in that process.” 


President Biden announced last month that all adults will be eligible to be vaccinated by May 1st. This month in Arizona, vaccination sites opened to all people 16 years and older, which has led to a surge in appointments to get vaccinated over the last few weeks. This combats with the new, however less intense, increase of COVID-19 cases over the past month due to increased travel from families going on spring break.

“I think the surge was to be expected, but since everyone is getting vaccinated it will hopefully be the last one that will happen,” said Sera Hanagan, a senior.

The slight rise in cases over the last couple weeks indicates that, while the United States is administering nearly 3.1 million vaccines a day on average, it’s still important to follow the protocols outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to protect others and continue to slow the spread of the virus. As gatherings and travel throughout the world increase, some wonder when more states will begin to lift restrictions and when things will begin to look mostly normal again.

“It’s scary because just when everyone is hoping things are back to normal, the cases are beginning to go back up, showing that there may not be an end to all of this anytime soon, but it will definitely be different; I hope everything goes back to normal soon,” said Book.

There are still people who speculate whether or not vaccines are safe to get, or if they will cause any unpleasant or harmful side effects. 1.5 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine had to be recalled earlier this month, after being contaminated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine. The emergent plant responsible for producing the Johnson and Johnson and Astra Zeneca vaccines, BioSolutions, had a mix-up that spoiled enough raw vaccines for nearly 15 million doses.

Even though there will be a portion of the population who will not get the vaccine, it is still possible to reach herd immunity by the end of this year. The CDC has said that once 65-80% of the population has received the vaccine, then most of the restrictions put in place will be safe to end, allowing public facilities to return to full capacity. As of early April, over 100 million people have received the first dose, with 18.7% of the population fully vaccinated.

“I think it is important to get vaccinated cause it will help us get back to normal,” said Hanagan.


With the end of the pandemic nearing, the question remains as to whether it will really end, or like other viruses before it, become endemic. A story by Nicky Philips published in Nature magazine cited a poll done of 100 immunologists, and 89 percent of them responded that they believe the virus is here to stay, although probably in less dangerous forms. This means officials must decide if the protocols put in place over the last year will need to continue when herd immunity is reached. Similar to how security has increased at events and airports over the past couple of decades due to multiple attacks, some COVID-19 precautions may remain in effect in order to prevent further spread in the upcoming years. It is possible that restaurants, schools, and other public places, may keep some of their current precautions in order to prevent the spread of disease.

“I know that they are coming out with more knowledge on how those who have been vaccinated are reacting, if they can spread, not spread, those types of things,” said Vining.

As mask mandates in more states continue to be lifted and vaccines continue to be distributed at a rapid pace, the CDC should be able to identify whether or not COVID-19 restrictions can be lifted nationally if cases begin to trend downward again.

“I think that we are headed in the right direction, but I feel like we should have waited a little longer to lift the mask mandate,” said Hanagan.

If a fourth surge does not happen, then all states will hopefully be able to reopen businesses to full capacity and large gatherings can resume. With vaccine distribution continuing to become more rapid and positivity rates starting to lower, all states will hopefully begin to consider reducing restrictions so things can return to normal again.