Let parents make the decision on masks for kids! Obama-era medical expert says 'science doesn't support' schoolchildren wearing face coverings in 'perpetuity' as COVID cases plummet 47% in a week and eight states drop mask mandates

 Even as federal health officials cling to masks, many health officials and experts - including many Democrats - are voicing that it is time to drop face-coverings as the Omicron variant-fueled Covid surge continues to falter, with cases down 47 percent over the past week.

Dr Kavita Patel, an MSNBC contributor who works as a primary care physician and director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement in the Obama administration, told CNBC's Squawk Box that mask mandates in schools should not be around forever, and instead parents should choose whether their child needs to wear one based on a variety of factors.

'If you told me there's a future where we're wearing masks in perpetuity I'd say that's ridiculous, the science doesn't support that if we see that cases are coming down,' Patel said.

Patel joins an ever-growing group of health officials and experts calling for mask and other mandates to be phased out as cases continue to drop. Eight states, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Oregon are setting plans to drop or adjust mask mandates in the near-future.

Cases are coming down virtually everywhere in America. Daily cases have dropped 47 percent nationwide over the past week, from 453,141 cases per day last week to 239,757 now. Deaths caused by the virus, a lagging indicator that trends a few weeks behind cases, have flattened as well with 2,480 being recorded daily.

Only one state, Maine, is recording an increase in cases over the past two weeks, and more than 30 states have seen cases slash in half during that period. 

Patel says that, looking at these downwards trends, it might be time to drop masks in schools soon. When parents are making decisions for their children, they should consider multiple factors before send their child to school masked.

'Weigh your families risks in dealing with what might happen,' she said, considering the risk the child may be in from the virus - which is generally low unless they are immunocompromised, risk of other people in the household and the potential social detriments wearing a mask can pose on a child when interacting with other kids.

Forcing children to wear masks at school has become one of the most controversial issues in America in recent weeks, and weeks of declining cases have led to even some of the most liberal states in the country starting to leave masks behind.

Earlier this week, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware - all states led by Democratic governors - announced they would drop masks in school in the coming weeks. 

California, the nation's most populous state which also is among those with the strictest mandates in America, announced that it will end its indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people starting next week. In New York, the statewide mask mandate expired on Wednesday.  

Americans are still required to follow county mask or vaccine mandates that exist, though, even if rule are receded at the state level. Cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Atlanta, for example, all have stricter local guidelines than those that exist at the state level.

While federal level officials have little control over local guidelines, their advice is often used to shape pandemic mandates at the state and county levels - especially in blue areas of the country. Even federal officials seem to be breaking ranks on mandates going forward, though.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and usually a more pessimistic voice during the pandemic in the U.S., told Financial Times this week that the 'full-blown' pandemic phase of Covid may soon be over.

'I hope we are looking at a time when we have enough people vaccinated and enough people with protection from previous infection that the Covid restrictions will soon be a thing of the past,' he said.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been hesitant to lift guidelines, though, and stood by her agency's recommendation for universal masking in schools during an interview with WYPR.

'We owe it to our children to make sure that they can safely stay in school. Right now, that includes masking. We've seen outbreaks that have occurred in communities where students were not masked in schools and had to close,' she said. 

WHO Chief: Covid 'isn't finished' despite falling cases around the world

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is warning the Covid is not yet over, even as cases plummet in the U.S. and many other countries around the world

 'COVID isn't finished with us,' he said Wednesday

The WHO's weekly case report showed that global COVID-19 cases have dropped 17% over the past week. In the U.S. in particular, cases are down 47%

'Depending on where you live, it might feel like the COVID-19 pandemic is almost over, or, it might feel like it is at its worst,' Tedros said

'We know this virus will continue to evolve, but we are not defenseless... We have the tools to prevent this disease, test for it and to treat it.'

The WHO is launching a $23 billion effort to fund tests, vaccines and treatments in the developing world

Covid cases are plummeting in nearly every U.S. state. The only place where they are trending upwards in Maine, which has one of the lowest infection rates in America, meaning even slight upticks in cases will cause massive swings in the state's change figures.

As of Wednesday morning, 38 states have recorded a drop in cases of 50 percent or more over the past two weeks. 17 states have had daily infections drop by 70 percent or more.  

Maryland is currently recording the lowest infection rate in America, with 24 of every 100,000 residents testing positive for the virus daily. It is a miraculous turnaround for the state that was among the hardest hit by the Omicron variant when it first emerged last month.

Other northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that were slammed by the variant last month are suddenly among those with the nation's lowest infection rates as well. New Jersey (33 daily cases per 100,000 residents), Connecticut (36), New York (37), Delaware (49), Pennsylvania (52) and Massachusetts (54) are among those with the lowest cases as well.

Only one state has an infection rate of more than 200 cases per 100,000 residents, Alaska (214). The far-away state has often trended separately from the U.S. mainland during Covid because of its large differences in weather and the fact that it does not share any borders with another state.

Only 12 states are recording 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents every day, and there is a clear disparity opening up between the unvaccinated and vaccinated. While the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states with the highest vaccination rates are recording the least infection per capita, Midwestern and southern states that have failed to jab much of their populations are recording the highest level of infections.

Mississippi has only vaccinated 50 percent of its population in the year since the shots have become available, and the Magnolia state is average 197 daily cases per every 100,000 residents.

Other nearby states like Tennessee (162 daily cases per 100,000 residents; 53 percent vaccination rate), West Virginia (142; 56), Kentucky (127; 56), South Carolina (101; 55) and North Carolina (100; 59) are among the group as well.

Going out further west, the rest of the group is made up of North Dakota (133; 54), Montana (129; 55), Wyoming (104; 50), Idaho (102; 52) and Arizona (102; 59). Minnesota (109; 67) is an outlier among the group.

Mississippi also leads the nation in Covid mortality rate, as deaths from the virus have surged in the south while they drop in many other parts of America. The state is averaging 1.68 daily deaths per every 100,000 residents, leading the nation by a significant margin. 

Other southern states like Virginia (1.49), South Carolina (1.25), Tennessee (1.11) and Arkansas (1.1) are among the leaders as well.

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