NBC digital senior politics reporter Alex Seitz-Wald warned that Democrats face a "challenge" to get their base to attempt to go "back to normal" as blue states quickly drop COVID-19 restrictions.
Starting Friday, Washington no longer requires people to wear masks at "large outdoor events" of 500 or more people. However, masks are still necessary for public indoor settings until March 21.
Illinois will drop its mask mandate on Feb. 28.
Hawaii is the only state that hasn't announced plans to lift its indoor mask mandate.
However, as all of these Democratic-governed states ease COVID-19 restrictions, Democratic voters are overwhelmingly in favor of continuing mask mandates.
A Politico-Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday found that 65% of Democrats say it's "too early to rescind mask mandates." Meanwhile, only 20% of Republicans and 42% of independents say it is too early to get rid of the mask mandates.
Seitz-Wald notes that Democrats may have a hard time convincing liberals to attempt to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyles after being inundated with pandemic guidances for the past two years.
"I think these Democratic governors are basically playing to where they think the ball is going to be if not where it is now," Seitz-Wald said during an appearance on MSNBC. "They’re kind of trying to get ahead of the inevitable because the trend lines have that a growing number of Americans, including a lot of Democrats, are heading towards if not already at the point of saying 'You know what? We just have to get back to normal.'"
"And you see this kind of emerging message from some Democrats basically saying, 'Mission accomplished,' that, you know, the policies of the Biden White House, the Democratic Congress, Democratic governors, they worked, our sacrifices were worth it, we got vaccinated, it's now time to enjoy those benefits. But that message hasn’t really been that loud because, as you pointed out, the base is divided," Seitz-Ward continued. "A large number of Democrats are not there yet. So I think there is going to be a challenge for a lot of Democratic leaders to get their base comfortable with the idea of going back to normal."
"I mean, for the past two years, so much of the identity of what is meant to be a Democrat, to follow the science, was tied up in masking and following these rules and regulations," the NBC reported told anchor Hallie Jackson. "And if you didn’t do that, you were you know, a bad person, you were Ron DeSantis, you’re a denier. So, now these Democratic leaders need to get their base comfortable with unwinding all of that."
Complicating matters for Democratic leadership at the state and local levels is that federal officials are still recommending that Americans wear face masks indoors.
"We certainly understand the need and desire to be flexible and we want to ensure the public health guidance that we're providing meets the moment that we're in," Walensky said. She added that the falling COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are "encouraging," but deaths and hospitalizations are still too high for the CDC to advise people not to wear masks.
Walensky stated on Wednesday, "We must consider hospital capacity as an additional important barometer. We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing when these metrics are better, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen."
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday, "It’s understandable why people want to take masks off the kids. But, right now, given the level of activity that we have, it is risky."
During an interview with Lester Holt last week, President Joe Biden was asked if he thought states and cities were "moving too quickly to loosen indoor mask mandates." Biden replied, "I committed that I would follow the science, the science as put forward by the CDC and the federal people. I think it's probably premature, but it's a tough call."
A Gallup poll taken in January found that the government and poor government leadership were the most important issues facing the country. The COVID-19 pandemic was the second-most important issue according to the survey.