“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiine! I’m begging of you please don’t hesitate,” sang Dolly Parton, riffing on her hit song “Jolene” as she received her first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
“I know I’m trying to be funny now, but I’m dead serious about the vaccine,” she told the camera. “I think we all want to get back to normal, whatever that is, and that would be a great shot in the arm, wouldn’t it?”
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) March 2, 2021
But as this joyful video was shared on Parton’s Twitter account on Tuesday, several US states went against the advice of health experts by lifting mask mandates and loosening other restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The governors of Texas and Mississippi defied federal government warnings not to relax restrictions or open economies too fast by rescinding mask mandates and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity. Their counterparts in Louisiana and Michigan announced that restaurants will be allowed to increase capacity, among reopening measures in other states.
The looming relaxations are paradoxically a symptom of President Joe Biden’s success as confidence grows in the availability of vaccines, Stephen Collinson writes. But experts are warning that opening too quickly could provide a vast petri dish that new variants of Covid-19 need to thrive.
After the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States declined from unprecedented highs recently, the downturn appears to have stagnated at a high level, and seven-day average case levels are as high as they were last summer. “We should not ease up, allow indoor dining, big groups … getting rid of mask mandates. We have to hold on for another two or three months in this condition,” Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who was a member of Biden’s Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board, told CNN.
The new COVID-19 variants that are sweeping across the globe are often not just more infectious, they could also make vaccines less effective. That means that states like Texas and Mississippi, which were slow to adopt steps like mask-wearing, are not just risking their own citizens but all other Americans too.