A look back at the support, criticism, protests over mask mandates

Published: May. 14, 2021 at 7:58 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - With mask rules finally being lifted throughout the Tri-State, a look inside history books will show how these mandates drew widespread support, criticism and even protests over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s possible that face masks became a regular talking point across households when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first recommended that Americans wear masks last spring.

Fast forward to July 2020, officials started mandating them.

“It’s no longer voluntary, it’s mandatory,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in July 2020. “And I’m willing to take whatever criticism comes with that.”

“An executive order is being drafted with a directive to wear a face mask to begin next Wednesday, July 15th,” Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke told media in July 2020.

Shortly afterward, Indiana came down with its statewide mandate.

In the days, weeks and months that followed, controversy surrounded those executive orders.

People spoke out against masks at public meetings.

“Well guess what? I won’t comply and I’ll be the first one and proudly go to jail,” a resident said at a public Evansville City Council meeting in July.

The city saw mask-less protests.

“We’re having a mask-less protest against the governor and Mayor Winnecke and the City Council,” one protester said outside of the Evansville Civic Center in July 2020.

For parents with kids in school, and older than first grade, their children were sent to school wearing masks.

Any who bothered to travel, they wore masks too. Despite mandates recently being dropped, masks are still required on public transportation, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Vaccines started rolling out in late 2020, and immunizations started to climb.

Almost one year after the first mandates in the Tri-State went into effect, the CDC is now issuing updated guidance, recommending no masks in most situations for people fully vaccinated.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday.

Several might feel weird leaving their house, or sitting at their desk at work without having their mask on, but that weirdness is another step toward normalcy.

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