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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

When will Covid masks finally come off?

Amid the turmoil of the past two years – a period that included a deadly pandemic, massive layoffs, an ugly presidential election and an attack on the United States Capitol – some of the fiercest political debates in America have been over the near-weightless tract of land. fabric: face mask.

US officials have been slow to use face masks as a strategy to slow the spread of the coronavirus. When they finally did, masks became a powerful symbol of the pandemic – public health common sense turned into a political hotspot and a clear reminder that life was anything but normal.

With the summer delta spike in the rearview mirror and school-age vaccinations in progress, many Americans are wondering when the masks will finally come off.

“The best science really supports mask wearing as an effective strategy to reduce Covid-19,” said Dr. Stephen Loubie, an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist at Stanford University. “The question is, how long have we been doing this and in how many contexts?” He added, “Do we all wear masks for the rest of our lives?”

Some government officials are already plotting the end. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday that requirements for home masks would be loosened. The next day, Florida lawmakers passed a law banning school masks, which some counties had already dropped.

Eric Adams, New York City’s mayor-elect, “wants to stop wearing masks in schools when health officials deem it safe to do so,” a spokesman said in an email.

Experts believe that this time has not yet come.

“Cases of the disease are starting to rise again, and we have not yet defeated this virus,” said Ann Reimoan, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We may be tired of Covid and Covid restrictions and public health measures, but of course we are not done with this virus yet.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that even fully vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public spaces where community transmission is “significant or high”. Currently, approximately 85 percent of US counties meet this threshold, which is defined as at least 50 new cases per week per 100,000 residents.

It will be safer to loosen mask requirements early next year, after more children are fully vaccinated and the holiday travel season passes, scientists said. They noted that voluntarily wearing a mask will continue to be beneficial in certain circumstances, as well as in future cold and flu seasons.

“I don’t think we’ll want to drop all our masks,” said Dr. Looby.

Several lines of evidence support the effectiveness of masks as a public health measure.

Laboratory studies have shown that even simple sheet masks can block more than 50 percent of small aerosols; Surgical masks and N95 respirators are even better. And real-world research shows state and school requirements for masks are holding back the spread of the virus.

A randomized trial conducted by Dr. Lubi and colleagues in 600 villages in Bangladesh demonstrated that mask-wearing interventions, including the distribution of free masks and a comprehensive messaging campaign, led to a significant increase in mask wearing and a decrease in Covid infections. cases. (The study has not yet been published in a scientific journal.)

All of these studies have limitations, but together they and many similar analyzes provide a clear conclusion.

“There is overwhelming evidence that masks help slow the transmission of the virus,” said Lincy Marr, an airborne virus expert at Virginia Institute of Technology.

Face masks are not without their drawbacks. “They interfere with communication,” said Dr. Marr. “They can be uncomfortable.”

Some people with disabilities may not be able to wear masks, and there is still debate about how to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of camouflaging young children, who are much less likely than adults to become seriously ill with the virus. (The CDC says that children under 2 years old should not wear masks, while the World Health Organization recommends not requiring masks for children under 6 years old.)

But given that most people tolerate masks well and that wearing masks is much less damaging than other mitigation measures such as blocking, Face masks are a key tool in the fight against the pandemic, experts say.

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“I think wearing masks is in many ways one of the interventions that you probably want to relax from last,” said Richard Stutt, an infectious disease simulator at the University of Cambridge. “Wearing a mask is a very, very low cost compared to most other procedures.”

But mask bans never last forever, and this fall, as cases declined and the right to vaccinate expanded, some government officials began to think about how to end them.

This month, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced its criteria, including specific vaccination and transmission targets, to remove certain indoor camouflage requirements.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently said he hopes to repeal the state’s school mask law. “Sooner rather than later” and put forward the idea of ​​phasing out the requirement, starting with high school, whose students are eligible for vaccinations within a few months.

But now, experts say, easing mask requirements would be premature, especially as we get closer to winter, when people spend more time indoors, travel on vacation brings people far apart and respiratory viruses spread easily.

“Now is not the time for me to cut my mask requirements,” said Dr. Looby.

Dr. Marr recommended that the school mask requirements not be lifted until the winter break is over and more school-age children can receive both shots. If community transmission levels are low to moderate a few weeks after the school reopened in January, then “Yes, let’s get rid of the masks,” she said.

Sima Lakdawala, a respiratory virus expert at the University of Pittsburgh, presented a similar graph: “Maybe in February we can say goodbye to masks.”

Other experts did not want to name a date. Dr. Rimoan said she would like to see more sustained reductions in cases and deaths before easing mask requirements. “We are still seeing 1,000 people die a day from this virus,” she said. “It’s not just a matter of comfort and ease – I mean, it’s a matter of life or death for a lot of people.”

The scientists stressed that easing mask restrictions must be a local solution based on a complex set of factors, including local levels of transmission and vaccination, and the vulnerability of the population in question.

“If there is an outbreak in a region or a specific community, I think it would be prudent for people in that community to wear masks, even if at the national level everything is under sufficient control,” said Dr. Stutt.

And wearing masks isn’t all or nothing. Even after mandates have been lifted, it will make sense for some people – for example, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems – to wear masks under certain circumstances and conditions. Scientists believe that people should be prepared to put on masks again in the event of future power surges.

Experts also expressed hope that the new mask-wearing regulations could survive the pandemic. Face masks can help reduce transmission of other respiratory viruses, and experts said they plan to continue wearing masks in some conditions, such as on planes and buses, during future flu seasons.

“Before the pandemic, there was a stigma associated with wearing masks in this country, but I think this has become the norm in many places,” said Dr. Marr. (However, she admitted, “I think others will never wear masks again.”)

Dr Lakdawala hoped that as other pandemic restrictions eased, people might find a short period of mask wearing in certain high-risk situations less burdensome.

“Hopefully, when people become more comfortable vaccinating and realizing that they can see their friends and family and they can walk safely and go about their day to day, wearing a mask on the bus for the 20 minutes you need to ride it to work. is not seen as a burden, ”she said. “It is seen as a way to protect yourself and your family.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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