Now is a confusing time in the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are infected every day, and about 3,000 people are dying. Earlier in the pandemic, high numbers like these would trigger mask mandates and business closures. Today, in the face of these grim statistics, states are relaxing their pandemic protocols instead.
That’s partly because even though so many Americans are dying, there are even more Americans who are dying to return to normal. States including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Nevada recently announced that they quit the mask quest in some form, whether intended for schools or the general public.
However, the federal government thinks it is too early. “Across the country, I know people are really cautiously optimistic when they see the case rate drop, but what I will say is we still have about 290,000 cases a day and high hospitalizations. than in our prime. ,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio this week. “Now, I don’t think, is the time to start easing those restrictions.” Masks are still required on trains, planes and buses, and CDC Still recommend wearing them indoors where the virus is highly contagious—but almost the entire country. The Biden Administration Even Started Giving Free N95 respirator mask recently to help Americans upgrade their masks.
What should you do with all these conflicting instructions? Is it time to take off your mask?
“For me, it feels a bit premature because of the number of cases and the number of cases,” said Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and an expert on airborne virus transmission. hospitalizations are still high. “They’re trending downwards, but I’d like to see those numbers get a little lower — maybe just for a week or two — before we all have the reveal.”
Whether you should wear a mask or not is up to each person’s concerns. Marr said she would consider ditching the mask once there’s no longer a strain on the health care system. “I am motivated, I have been exposed through my children going to school. I am not worried about my health,” she said.
But if you’re actively trying to avoid infection, it’s still a good idea to wear a mask in public indoor spaces. New CDC data found that people who wear masks indoors are less likely to get sick than those who don’t, and N95 and KN95 respirators proved to be particularly effective: people who wore those were 83% less likely to test positive than those who didn’t wear a mask. “So even if the people around you aren’t wearing masks, you’ll still be well protected wearing a respirator,” says Marr.
However, people are still tired after two long years of wearing masks, and it is not unreasonable to start contemplating life behind the masks. “We need to move away from wearing them,” said Don Milton, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health who has studied airborne infections for more than 25 years. Masks everywhere, anytime. “We had just come down from a peak so high that it didn’t look like we were in the woods.”
Milton recommends “look.”[ing] in case rate in your area, your vulnerability, and the vulnerability of your home network” to determine whether a mask should be worn. “You want to see a very low positive test rate: less than 1%, say half a percent,” he suggests as a standard. He said: “There is about one new case for every 100,000 people, and I want to see infection rate very low,” — which means the number of new people each infected person will spread the virus to, an important indicator of whether the spread of the virus is growing or shrinking. Of course, most areas have not yet experienced such low levels of virus transmission.
Even among mutually-respecting experts, there isn’t a broad consensus on how to think about masking right now, Marr said. “There’s no one right answer. There are a lot of different factors to consider, like cases, number of hospitalizations, vaccination rates, disease severity, and herd immunity.”
As Dissolution quest, a potential advantage of wearing a mask is that people will feel normal again, which can help them afford to wear a mask again when it really matters. “We don’t want to keep tasks beyond the time they need, because then people lose trust,” says Marr. “If there’s a surge in the future when you really need them, everyone’s going to be exhausted.”
There are ways to filter viruses from the air much more gently than wearing a filter device directly on your face. Milton, a student who is now making homemade air-cleaning devices in class for use in dorm rooms as well as local barbershops and beauty salons: “Along with the drop in masks, We need to up our game around cleaning the air. Indoor air filtration is one of the few ways to passively reduce people’s exposure to SARS-CoV-2.flu, and other viruses.
“Over the past six months, it has become really clear that vaccination alone cannot control this virus,” he said. “We need these layers of non-pharmaceutical protection.”