WHY DON’T WE SEE MORE MASKS?
By Richard Davis
Engaging in usual forms of commerce makes one believe that the pandemic is a thing of the past. I find it extremely frightening that more people are not wearing masks in public because the science does tell us that not enough people have been vaccinated to provide the kind of herd immunity that we might need to protect all of us.
Fifty four percent of the U.S. population has received a first dose of vaccine and 47% have received a second dose. That means that as you go about your daily business about half of the people you see should be wearing masks. Of course, the vaccination numbers vary by state. Vermont has a vaccination rate of 82% for a first dose and 75% for a second dose. Massachusetts is at 70% for a first dose and 61% for a second dose.
Even with those numbers we still should see a quarter to a half of the people we engage with on a daily basis wearing masks. It is just not happening. Most places, as well as the CDC, have lifted mask restrictions for vaccinated people and have let the unvaccinated rely on their conscience to do the right thing.
Guess what? It ain’t working. The daily numbers of new COVID cases and deaths are declining but more than 600,000 Americans have died from the disease and it has become clear that most of the recent deaths are in people who have not been vaccinated.
I was watching a Red Sox game last night and I could not see one person in the crowd wearing a mask. I’m sure there were some masked people, but if the recommendations were being followed I should have seen more than a few people in the stands wearing masks. Outdoor events make disease transmission less likely but people are packed in at sporting and concert events.
One of the things that scares me, as a fully vaccinated older person, is that it is still possible for me to contract COVID from an unvaccinated person if I let my guard down and don’t wear a mask.
I have been engaging socially with friends that I know have been vaccinated but I still wear a mask when I go into the public marketplace. There have been a few times when I have not worn a mask and I hope to not continue to do that until the overall vaccination rate is higher.
The likelihood of contracting COVID once you have been vaccinated is very low but it is still possible. Experts say that vaccination will also provide protection against COVID variants but the virus mutates frequently and we will never know exactly how much protection we have.
Here is information about variants from the CDC. “We are monitoring multiple variants; currently there are six notable variants in the United States: B.1.1.7 (Alpha): This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2020. It was initially detected in the United Kingdom. B.1.351 (Beta): This variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020. P.1 (Gamma): This variant was first detected in the United States in January 2021. P.1 was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. B.1.427 and B.1.429 (Epsilon): These two variants were first identified in California in February 2021. B.1.617.2 (Delta): This variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. It was initially identified in India in December 2020. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants.”
We are better off than we were a year ago but we cannot let our guard down. I am hoping that the current vaccination rate will keep the number of new cases and deaths low. So far that seems to be the case but my fears of a surge in numbers remain.