Why National Nurses United, Doctors, and local Health Officials are Right That It’s Too Early to End Mask Mandate
Concerned about lack of enforcement and guidelines has thrown a wrench into general acceptance that masks mitigate risks from COVID. Last week the Center’s for Disease Control made a 180 degree turn on mask mandates for those who have been vaccinated drawing criticism from doctors and nurses. The National Nurses United have condemned the decision as “not in the best interests of public opinion” in a press conference and said relaxing restrictions without checking to see if people really are vaccinated as “dangerous.”
The largest union of registered nurses in the country said “We understand everyone’s desire to get back to normal…but we are a profession based upon science, and the science shows this is exactly the wrong time to be relaxing our multi-pronged approach to infection control, that studies show actually work to control the virus.” And they’re not wrong. Nationally only 38% have been fully vaccinated, and there are currently no guidelines in place to require businesses to verify if someone is lying about getting vaccinated.
Doctor Leana Wen, an epidemiologist was stunned when she learned the CDC was relaxing rules on those who were fully vaccinated. Another official who has chosen to ignore the CDC is the California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly who said the state will extend the mask mandate until June 15th. What this indicates is that the CDC is throwing caution out the door and buckling because large businesses are complaining about restrictions at a moment when not even half the country is vaccinated.
Let’s take an example of my own state of Washington. Currently three in five are not fully vaccinated. If the entire state suddenly started following the CDC’s advice when 59% are unvaccinated, it’s possible we could see a resurgence of another coronavirus variant like the Indian strain. There’s currently no guidelines in place that require businesses to verify if a person going shopping or entering a building has indeed been vaccinated. Walking into Costco the other day was very unusual because not a single employee checked a customer’s vaccination card for those who removed their masks. It’s like saying a patient with a half healed wound can start jogging at the gym. That combined with the emergence of a triple mutated coronavirus in India could do even more damage to our fragile country hanging by a thread.
I’m very sympathetic to those who want everything to “go back to normal” unfortunately the virus’s ever changing nature is hampering that. Even with the vaccinations in place, they looming threat of more mutations and variants exist in society. The latest triple variant in India while being downplayed by the CDC should alarm the 62% of Americans who are not vaccinated. Only when a state reaches herd immunity (60–80%) can we safely take off our masks. Until then we have to make sure to keep restrictions in place until we reach that point and only then.
Close Encounter with the Coronavirus
I want to tell you a story of my encounter with this dangerous virus. Last November at work I came into close proximity with a coworker who later tested positive for COVID19. My first reaction was similar to those who were told they’d gotten a cancer diagnosis. Several questions flashed through my head: Did I unknowingly give this to my boomer parents? What if one of them dies because of me? How could I live with myself if that happened? Christ what have I done?!
As I drove home to get my COVID test, looking at the long line of cars behind me at the testing drive through it hit me just how serious this pandemic really was. It was no laughing matter. While I was a healthy person thirty something person, those with a pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes were the most vulnerable which included my parents who I had stayed with because I worked overtime. I got my test and quarantined myself off for two weeks from the time of exposure. And I waited for seventy-two hours in mind numbing fear as I cooked and watched Netflix.
When the test results came back negative, I breathed a sigh of relief. Since then I vowed to not come within six feet of another person again until our state reaches herd immunity. And that’s why I’m writing this article: to urge everyone to continue wearing your mask until we reach herd immunity. The CDC was wrong to lift the mask requirement, and the National Nurses United and Dr Leana Wen are right. Make sure to remain six feet apart indoors with a mask even if your vaccinated, there’s a small chance you can get it as Bill Maher did. The World Health Organization is a good source of information if you want to stay safe and see what the situation is around the globe.
Don’t ditch your mask, it’s too early to throw them out.