Loosening mask mandates as case numbers are on the rise? Whose brilliant idea is this?
Imagine if this present day situation developed 2 years ago, before the pandemic. A virus pops up in the US, which infects millions of people. Most get through it like a cold, or maybe even without any significant symptoms at all. But some people get pretty sick, leading to some pretty nasty long term health effects. Some get so sick that they even die, as many as 100,000 people. We would be freaking out. But in the present pandemic world, it’s nothing more than an inconvenience!
The number of new Covid cases rose by 40% nationally over the last week and the hospitalization rate has stopped dropping. 85% of the cases are from the omicron BA-2 subvariant. That, along with the dwindling full vaccination numbers and insane decision to continue to loosen mask mandates in enclosed, packed public places is a recipe for a disastrous few months. Although BA-2 causes less severe disease, again, it’s about the numbers. A small percentage of a big number is still a big number. BA-2 is responsible for over 100,000 deaths in the US alone. And overall, we are fast approaching 1 million deaths.
And that 40% case rate rise quoted above is a vast underestimation, given the fact that most people are testing at home and those cases go unreported. The estimate is that the new case load is 4x greater than what we know about. And you can bet that there are plenty of people who test positive at home, but ignore it and continue to go out and be among other people, spreading this disease.
Of the known reported cases, 3% were completely asymptomatic. So that means that if you’re in a room with 100 people, at least 3 of them are for sure infected and shedding virus without knowing it. And for a virus more than 10x more infectious than the original version, that is very concerning. You can easily approach 100 people on a subway car or plane and half that on a public bus.
The argument that “it’s up to you whether you want to wear a mask or not, to make the best decision for yourself” is selfish and narrow minded. You are also making a decision for all those around you since you may be making them sick as well. Remember that this virus spreads just by breathing.
We may be done with this pandemic, but it is not done with us. We need to continue to be vigilant. Not only to protect those in our society who are more vulnerable, but for everyone else as well.
Your best and most effective line of defense is still to get vaccinated and boosted. If it’s been more than 4 months after your second dose, or first J&J dose, you need the third or second shot. If it’s been more than 4 months since your third shot, and you are eligible, get the 4th shot. Studies clearly show that the additional boosters significantly improve protection, not necessarily from getting infected, but certainly from getting sick and/or dying.
Masks without question have their issues. Quality matters. How you wear it matters. The best is a well fitting N95 or KN95 (or equivalent). However, if nothing else, even a doily worn under the chin is a physical reminder that we are still in a pandemic and we need to be careful. Not wearing anything makes people much more comfortable and less vigilant.
Please don’t get too comfortable. A newer, more concerning variant is just around the corner!
Pray for Ukraine.
🇺🇦 Слава Україні 🌻🇺🇦
Stay safe and be well.