Connecting state and local government leaders
The survey results come as state and local officials in some places battle over mask policies, and as cases of the virus swell.
There’s limited support among Americans for state laws that prevent local governments from setting their own mask policies to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but views on the issue are divided along party lines, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Only about 33% of respondents to the Axios/Ipsos survey favored states blocking localities from imposing mask requirements, while 66% were opposed. Support for state restrictions on local mask orders was much stronger among Republicans (57%) than Democrats (16%). The findings come as GOP leaders in multiple states have barred mask mandates by localities and in schools, sparking court challenges and push back from local officials.
At the same time, cases of the virus are again surging around the country, driven by the rise of the more contagious delta variant and lagging vaccination rates in some states.
The new survey results, based on interviews conducted between Aug. 13-16 with 1,041 adults, also found that 64% of people support their state or local government requiring masks to be worn in all public places. This was true for 88% of Democrats and 71% of people living in urban areas, but just 40% of Republicans and 49% of respondents hailing from rural parts of the country.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they support their local school districts requiring teachers and students to wear masks in schools, with the results showing similar partisan divides.
At least six states—Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah—have bans on masking and vaccination requirements in schools, according to a brief that the Local Solutions Support Center, which tracks preemption issues, released Monday.
In Texas, state and local officials are battling over action Gov. Greg Abbott took to block local mask mandates. This has resulted in a mishmash of policies across different jurisdictions. On Tuesday, Abbott tested positive for Covid-19, the governor’s office said, adding that he remained in good health and was not experiencing symptoms.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also been defending his move to ban mask mandates in schools, which is facing legal challenges and defiance by some districts. Meanwhile, Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran pushed this week for the State Board of Education to “use its enforcement powers” against districts not adhering to the state guidelines.
Less than four months after signing a bill prohibiting local mask mandates, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that he’d erred in backing the policy and asked lawmakers to reconsider it.
Conflicts are playing out in other states where Republican leaders have sought to restrict local mask policies. For more information on this see the Local Solutions Support Center update from this week.
Bill Lucia is a senior editor for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.