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J.D. Vance introduces mask mandate ban; unanimous passage falls short

(WJW) — Ohio Republican U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance introduced his “Freedom to Breathe Act” Thursday, which would ban the federal government from issuing mask mandates.

“Schools such as Morris Brown College in Atlanta and even local public schools here in the D.C. area have re-imposed mask mandates,” said Vance.

Vance’s drive for unanimous Senate passage of the legislation fell short Thursday.

It would prohibit any federal official, including the president, from requiring masks at schools or on public transit for 15 months.

“We know that a generation of schoolchildren have suffered significant speech and developmental disabilities because this country panicked instead of using its brain and forced toddlers and small children to wear masks,” said Vance.

The debate over masking comes as cases increase and new variants emerge.

“COVID is not gone. It’s never been gone. I think a lot of people confuse ‘the pandemic is over’ and ‘COVID is gone.’ That’s not true,” said Dr. Amy Edwards with University Hospitals.

Edwards doubled down that masks are effective in helping prevent the spread, especially N95s and other medical-grade masks.

“If I wear a mask, the person that is near me is less likely to get sick. Fewer droplets of my sickness get out into the world and less people are sick,” said Edwards.

Right now, the CDC recommends universal masking for school children when hospital admission levels go up.

However, CDC guidelines are not mandates and it’s up to each individual school district to decide what they want to do.

The number of cases in Ohio increased steadily over the past month and state health officials also detected the new variant BA.2.86 in Lorain County.