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The following statement is attributable to Devin Jopp, EdD, MS, CEO of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). It was made on March 3.

APIC is dismayed to learn that several U.S. states including Texas and Mississippi are ending statewide COVID-19 mask mandates and are allowing businesses to resume operations at full capacity. This announcement comes one day after CDC Director Walensky warned against loosening restrictions prematurely. This rapid move is concerning and could jeopardize the incredible progress that has been made to end the pandemic.

With virus variants still spreading and case counts inching upward in some states in recent days, it is too soon to relax the COVID-19 mitigation measures that have been proven to reduce spread of the virus. APIC understands the desire to resume normal life, but what allows us to do that safely are universal masking and social distancing measures recommended by the CDC.

We are heading in the right direction with reduced national case counts and increased vaccine supply, but that does not mean we are out of the woods. Vaccine distribution remains an issue, especially in Texas which has the second highest population but one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates nationwide. We are excited that Administration officials have announced that there should be enough vaccine supply for all American adults by early summer, but until we get the vaccines in enough arms, we must continue to enforce CDC recommendations for mask use and social distancing. We urge state officials to hold off on easing COVID-19 restrictions until the CDC recommends doing so. It is too soon to take our foot off the pedal when we are so close to ending this pandemic for good.