Lockdowns 2.0? Masks, social distancing and more are creeping back as election season builds

Discussions and policies of the COVID-19 lockdown were heavily politicized and manipulated. Are we going to have a replay of the lockdown just in time for the 2024 election cycle?

Published: August 24, 2023 1:43am

Updated: August 24, 2023 9:38am

With little more than a year until the 2024 elections, the reappearance of some COVID-era protocols has sparked concerns that more widespread measures may be ordered in the months ahead. 

This week, Morris Brown College announced on Instagram that "effective immediately," several COVID-19 protocols, including a campus-wide mask mandate, had been enacted for at least 14 days despit there having been no confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus recently. The measure, the college says, is instead "due to reports of positive cases among students" at other Atlanta-area schools.

CNN reported that at least one expert has said the protocols may be needed soon for people with diabetes, cancer, chronic liver, kidney or lung disease, organ or stem cell transplants, HIV or other immunocompromising conditions, a history of heart disease or stroke, dementia or mental health issues. The COVID-19 protocols included:

  • Social distancing
  • Bans on "large gatherings"
  • Isolation and quarantines in accordance with CDC guidelines
  • Contact Tracing
  • Symptom Monitoring
  • Regular hand washing and sanitation

Morris Brown College is one of a few entities who have quietly reintroduced the controversial measures, which have been challenged by some medical researchers. One January 2023 study by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews observed a "lack of effect of mask wearing in interrupting the spread of influenza‐like illness (ILI) or influenza/COVID‐19."

After reporting "small increases in COVID-19 indicators over the past four weeks indicating increased transmission," Lionsgate, the Hollywood film studio that produced hits such as "The Hunger Games" and the "John Wick" movies also announced a mask mandate for its Santa Monica employees, according to internal communications obtained by Deadline.

Unlike the private Atlanta college, Lionsgate's mandate has no stated expiration but is simply active "until further notice," the outlet stated.

In April, the Biden administration announced it was funneling $5 billion into developing more COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The announcement never mentioned masks or social distancing, and focused on vaccines. Nonetheless, just the fact that the HHS was focusing on COVID-19 have caused some to fear renewed lockdowns and mandates could be on the horizon

"They’re coming back for round two," said popular conservative figure Ian Miles Cheong on X, (formerly Twitter) accompanied by a clip of Dr. Fauci recently defending pandemic lockdowns as "absolutely justified" despite studies suggesting otherwise.

"I keep hearing whispers of COVID restrictions coming back," said Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who vowed to not comply with them. Kari Lake also tweeted about the rumors, calling it the "Covid-19 Election Variant."

Researchers writing for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the peer-reviewed journal of the National Academy of Sciences,  found  "no evidence" in 2021 to suggest that the shelter-in-place orders yielded "substantial reductions" in COVID-19 cases or deaths. A John Hopkins University study conducted last year also deemed lockdowns "ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument."

Other critics of the lockdown pointed to severe emotional and substance-abuse problems caused by the protocols. The popular Instapundit blog cited a SciTech Daily headline noting a "Surge in Severe, Alcohol-Related Liver Injury During COVID Pandemic."

The previously cited measures come amid increased COVID-19 cases, mostly from a variant named EG.5. Another variant, BA.2.86, has also been detected in the US, but with minimal cases thus far.

According to The Washington Times, weekly hospitalizations and deaths from the virus are exorbitantly low compared to the peak of the pandemic. Moreover, it is important to note that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths is considered by many to be overblown.

CDC data from 2020 clarified that "COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned" for just 6% of deaths at the time, and the other 94% of mortalities had other "health conditions and contributing causes."

Like former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, others are speculating that the recent comeback of pandemic-era restrictions is intentionally timed with the 2024 election.

"Mandates are coming back just in time for the 2024 election cycle," conservative and investor Collin Rugg posted to X. "What impeccable timing!"

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk wrote on the platform that the moves are "just in time for Democrats to reinforce the importance of mass mail-in ballots" and also urged Americans not to comply.

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