Last Tuesday, Texas and Mississippi governors announced that they would be opening their respective states’ at 100%. capacity This means lifting mask mandates and all other COVID-19 restrictions that were initially set into motion to ensure that the spread of the virus decreased. Both governors believe that since the number of COVID cases has drastically plummeted and that vaccine distribution has been rapidly rising, it is now time to begin the process of reverting back to our normal lives. But is this necessarily the right choice?
Masks played a consequential role in our safety throughout this pandemic. Many studies have been conducted demonstrating the effectiveness of masks against the penetration of respiratory droplets. Another study indicated that people who were diagnosed with influenza or the common cold and wore surgical masks emitted significantly fewer droplets and aerosols containing these viruses. An additional study directed during the pandemic displayed data regarding the death rate from 198 countries. It was found that those with government policies and cultural norms of wearing masks had lower death rates. The research behind the potency of masks is endless, all justifying this simple statement: masks help.
With the introduction of multiple variants spreading within the nation’s population, wearing a mask only becomes more essential. At the moment, there are three: the first is from the U.K., the second from South Africa, and the third from Brazil. These variants are highly transmissible compared to the initial strain and are also said to have “increased severity”. This means there is an increased risk of depletion of oxygen for patients who are infected with one of the new viruses. In order to prevent the variants from running rampant, the need to wear masks becomes considerably imperative.
Then there stands the issue of the vaccine. At the moment, the demand is higher than the supply, and there are still shortages in many places across the United States. CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, claims that the rollbacks regarding the mask and all other health mandates will make us lose the ground we have gained in protecting our people. Nurses and doctors in these states also worry that with the end of the mask mandate, hospitals will be overwhelmed again, especially after they have finally reached a point of stability.
The fight against COVID-19, is yet to be over, as dangers still lurk around us. But we should not lose sight of the goal of reaching 100% immunity for all citizens, thus we should remain vigilant and continue to follow CDC guidelines to keep ourselves and our fellow Americans safe.