Twin Cities’ vaccine and mask mandates are pointless

In most places around the globe, Omicron peaked as quickly as it came. Data from South Africa, for example, suggests that Omicron peaked the third week of December. And even before the peak, hospitalizations had been lower for Omicron compared to other variants.

“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” the statement said, with cases declining in all provinces except the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, which recorded increases of 14% and 18%, respectively.

Nonetheless, there has been a decline in hospital admissions in all provinces except the Western Cape, the statement added, noting that admissions had been generally lower with the omicron variant.

Similar trends have been observed in other countries like the U.K.

The U.K. appears to have passed the peak of the latest wave of Covid-19 caused by Omicron, a promising sign that the highly transmissible variant’s impact may be brief, if intense, and fueling optimism that the pandemic may be waning.

Scientists say British data offer encouraging signs for countries behind the U.K. in the Omicron wave—such as the U.S.—that the variant is echoing the pattern it followed in South Africa, where cases rose rapidly over the course of just over a month, before falling back. The wave of Omicron infections in the U.S. is expected to peak over the weeks ahead, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said.

The seven-day average of new daily cases of Covid-19 in the U.K. has been falling for more than a week and on Tuesday dropped below the 14-day average for the first time since November, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of official data. Both are signs that caseloads are diminishing.

Mandates are pointless — even more so now

All things considered, trends from the U.K. and South Africa make it likely that COVID-19 levels might have peaked the week of Jan. 10 in the Metro region, as scientists from the University of Minnesota’s Genomic Center suggest.

In the likely case that Omicron has already peaked, the vaccine and mask mandates in the Twin Cities will accomplish very little. Cases have already been falling in the state, as have hospitalizations. Mandates will only give businesses more compliance hurdles to jump though, while at the same time helping them lose customers.

Not that these mandates would be effective if cases hadn’t peaked. For one, Omicron has a significantly lower rate of hospitalization compared to previous variants, meaning that some of these drastic measures are unwarranted.

Secondly, mask mandates made little sense even before vaccines were introduced. Not to mention that COVID-19 breakthrough cases continue to follow general COVID-19 trends in Minnesota –– rising and falling with each wave.

With more and more evidence showing that vaccines are becoming less and less effective against preventing infection, there is less evidence that these mandates would prevent case surges or eradicate COVID-19 altogether.

Lawmakers are better off simply encouraging Minnesotans, especially those at higher risk, to get vaccinated.