Here we go again. Are y’all as sick of this masking debate as I am? My NPR feed has a good article about masking that links to CDC’s latest, and probably the most realistic advice yet.
Highlights of Article
(with a few comments from Yours Truly)
According to the latest Covid data, 70% of the U.S. population currently lives in areas of low to medium COVID risk. (For Rochester area readers, Monroe County is listed as medium risk.) Also, the CDC is assessing risk based on hospitalizations for Covid, more than rates of new infections. Therefore, they conclude people now can go mask-less indoors.
(I think we’ve been doing that ever since we resumed dining in restaurants for months now. If I remember Microbiology 101, once a site is contaminated, it’s contaminated. Like being dead or pregnant. So why wear a mask to enter a restaurant when the diners have already contaminated the area just by eating, talking, and laughing without masks? The bug has left the building already, so to speak!)
The CDC cites widespread immunity through vaccinations and previous infections, as well as better access to testing and treatments to justify unmasking.
(I thought immunity through vaccinations and post infections protected against serious disease, hospitalizations, and hopefully, deaths—but not breakthrough infections. As for better testing, home tests are available now, but are not as reliable as the PCR. Last I heard it’s hard to schedule an appointment for PCR tests.
As for available treatments, here’s a link to info on the drugs in the pipeline from Mayo Clinic)
People should continue to wear masks if they are high risk, have Covid symptoms, have a positive test or been exposed. (What happened to quarantine?)
How Much is Political or Just Facing Facts?
(When I read that if not in an area of high risk, universal school masking is no longer necessary, I thought of all those heated school board meeting with irate parents. After all that marching and demonstrating, now we hear it’s up to the individual and their sense of risk.)
Quotes from the article:
“I think we’re moving to a pragmatic strategy, one that recognizes that those who want to protect themselves have every tool available,” says Dr. Ali Khan, a former CDC official and now a dean at the University of Nebraska: “There are free vaccines, free masks, free tests and free antivirals.”
Khan says it’s now up to communities and individuals to determine what actions to take to protect themselves and those around them.”
(Are we just facing the fact that, short of committing misdemeanors and felonies, Americans will do what they, when they want, how they want, no matter what the government says? I’m looking forward to traveling out of state next week now without fear of rabid maskers or non-maskers on the plane. But I wonder if this pragmatic approach will bring on another surge.)
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says the new risk levels give people a way to think about the pandemic as we go forward. “I think it’s a good road map,” he says. “It gives us a way of moving up or down the spectrum based on what could change in the future, and most of us do think that we’re still going to have recurring outbreaks of this disease in the community.”
What do you think?