Here We Go Again…Mask Recommendations Are Back!

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    So you probably just got your flip-flops out of your closet because summer is on its way. Well, the flip-flops have been out all year at the CDC! And here it comes again…they are on the verge of reissuing calls for indoor masking.

    Apparently, COVID-19 cases are again in the United States and some are anticipating them getting even worse in the coming months. So federal health officials have begun warning people in some of the high infection rate areas to consider calling for indoor masking once again. Good luck with that.

    The areas of increase are concentrated in the Northeast and the Midwest. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a White House briefing with reporters that prior increases in waves of infections have demonstrated that the disease travels across the country.

    Therefore in several areas in the United States, the CDC is urging local leaders to “encourage use of prevention strategies like masks in public indoor settings and increasing access to testing and treatment,” Walensky said.

    The officials seemed cautious about giving solid predictions about how much worse they thought the pandemic would get. They talk about several different factors that include the degree to which past infections will protect people against new variants of COVID.

    Dr. Ashish Jha is the White House coordinator of COVID-19. Jha wards the United States that they will be increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter while interviewing with the Associated Press. Dr. Jha wants Congress to quickly approve new funding for an increase in vaccines and treatments. If the funding is not released, the doctor said the virus would cause “unnecessary loss of life” in the fall and winter because America will run out of treatments. He also noted that the United States was already behind other nations in storing supplies for the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines.

    Dr. Jha described how to test manufacturers in America have started to lay off workers and even sell off equipment as demand for vaccines has slowed to a crawl. He wants the U.S. government to purchase more tests like they did when they sent hundreds of millions to public households for free this past year.

    If nothing is done, the White House doctor believes that the United States will have to be reliant on other nations because of the domestic shortage.

    In the last two and a half years, the United States has survived 5 waves of COVID-19. The last waves have been driven by mutated versions of the coronavirus, the last wave driven by the omicron variant. It spread much more easily than the earlier versions, but it did not cause a significant increase in hospitalizations.

    Experts are forecasting a 6th wave that will be driven by an omicron sub-variant. There was a 26% increase in COVID-19 cases in the last week, and hospitalizations increased by 19% in the last week.

    Because 32% of the country currently lives in an area with medium or high COVID-19 levels, with 9% living at the highest level, the CDC is recommending masks be mandated again. They are warning about the effects of waning immunity as well as relaxed measures across the country. They are strongly encouraging older adults to get boosters along with masks.

    Dr. Lakshmi Ganapathi, an infectious diseases specialist at Harvard University, said that when the CDC just gives guidelines, it is confusing to the general public. She said when the government makes a recommendation without rules, “it ultimately rests on every single individual picking and choosing the public health that works for them. But that’s not what is effective. If you’re talking about stemming hospitalizations and even deaths, all of these interventions work better when people do it collectively.”

    So watch out…as you get your flip-flops out, you may have to find your mask as well.

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