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Democratic mayors and governors are increasingly embracing a strategy of avoiding renewed lockdowns as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its third year.
Despite generally enacting stricter lockdown rules than their Republican counterparts, some Democrat leaders are expressing reluctance to lock down again given the readily available vaccines, even as cases of the omicron variant are surging.
Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a science initiative event at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. July 23, 2020. (REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo)
The changing approach was first noted by Politico.
Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose lockdown orders in 2020 urged Chicago residents to “cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations,” is now in a war of words with the city’s teachers union after they have resisted returning to work because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Lightfoot’s office filed an unfair labor practices complaint last week against the city’s teachers union.
“We will shut you down, we will cite you, and if we need to, we will arrest you, and we will take you to jail,” she said at the time.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks with 7th grade students at James Denman Middle School on October 01, 2021, in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose constituencies have seen strict lockdown rules in the past, have both signaled support for the Super Bowl taking place in Los Angeles despite the rising cases in both the city and the state.
During an interview last month, Gov. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said “the emergency is over,” and placed the onus for potential infection on the unvaccinated.
Explaining how he prefers vaccinations to mask mandates, Polis said, “Public health [officials] don’t get to tell people what to wear; that’s just not their job.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis wears a face covering as he approaches the podium to make a point about the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations in the state during a news conference on the state’s efforts against the coronavirus Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A recent Monmouth University poll showed that Americans across the political spectrum are wearied by the pandemic’s toll on their daily lives.
“A year ago, most Democratic voters were ahead of where governors were, saying, ‘You’re not locking down enough,'” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray told Politico. “Many of those people are now saying it doesn’t matter at this point, and what we’re seeing is governors reacting to that and acknowledging the mood of their own base.”
Former operatives from the Democratic Governors Association who spoke to Politico distanced themselves from some Republican governors, stressing that party leaders are still emphasizing safety precautions and vaccinations.
“You’re seeing a realistic acknowledgment of the frustration that people have with everything related to the pandemic,” said Corey Platt, a former political director to the Democratic Governors Association.
Fox News’ Nick Givas contributed to this report.