Sunday, February 27, 2022

To mask or not to mask... that is the question

As you have probably read, the CDC has relaxed its mask guidance in response to the falling numbers of Covid cases and hospitalizations. What should you do?

There are several key points to consider.

The first is that being fully vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from serious illness. While the vaccines’ ability to prevent infection wanes, their protection against hospitalization and death has remained strong.

The second is that masks, while not a panacea, clearly reduce risk. If you are in close contact with an infected person and both of you are wearing masks, your likelihood of catching the virus is reduced by 50%.

Finally, life is inherently risky, and you can balance your tolerance for risk against other things that are important to you, as you do every time you get in a car.

There is little need for most people to wear masks outdoors unless packed together as in a stadium.

If you are healthy and fully vaccinated, and so are your family, it is reasonable to stop using a mask in most settings. I would still use one when you are indoors in crowded environments such as theatres and public transportation.

If you or a family member or close friend are immune compromised, masks are still a useful barrier to infection and should still be used in most indoor settings.

When gathering indoors with friends, if you are all vaccinated and have no symptoms, you can skip the masks. If someone in the group is immune compromised, you can add an extra layer of safety by all doing a self-test before the gathering.

One of the things that mask-wearing has done is markedly cut down both influenza and colds, which are spread the same way as Covid – the respiratory route. I may just keep wearing one in stores and such for a while longer!

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