By Mary, O’Brien, M.D.
There is increasing confusion about mask policies in our country. This is understandable. The U.S. is a large country with federal, state, and local governance. Complexities are bound to develop. A brief, straightforward review may be helpful.
Clinical experience over the past 18 months has shown that SARS-Cov2 is a virus that will be, in all likelihood, an endemic respiratory virus for years to come, much like the flu. There will be multiple variants, and vaccines will be adjusted as necessary to reduce morbidity and mortality.
Capricious policies, protocols, and mandates will not protect people or eliminate this problem. If edicts and executive orders solved problems, we wouldn’t have any problems left.
So what makes sense at this point? The same things that have always made sense:
- Protect the vulnerable. We know who they are: the elderly and those with significant underlying conditions.
- Offer vaccines appropriately. The principle of patient autonomy, a crucial component of medical ethics, must not be abandoned. Forcing any medical procedure on people is a very serious breach of ethics. Natural immunity after infection is potent and important, and it must be acknowledged.
- Expand and facilitate early treatments. We have failed too often on this one. Telling infected people to stay home until they can scarcely breathe has been disastrous. Early use of inhaled steroids and monoclonal antibodies can prevent severe illness and death. They should not be delayed or restricted for the sake of financial maneuvering, power grabs, or bureaucratic scheming.
- Focus on facts, accurate statistics, common sense, and perspective. A mask-less two-year-old on a commercial jet with a sophisticated HEPA filtration system is not a threat to anyone. Hysterical neurotic adults are tormenting toddlers to assuage their own paranoia.
- Consider the current COVID survival statistics from Stanford University:
- Ages 0-19 years: 99.9973% survival
- Ages 20-29 years: 99.986% survival
- Ages 30-39 years: 99.96% survival
- Ages 40-49 years: 99.18% survival
5. Stay home if you don’t feel well. This has always been sound advice.
So far, medical research has demonstrated that every lockdown, school closing, and mask mandate around the world has failed to stop COVID. It’s time to face the research, drop the double standards, and get a grip. It’s time to live a normal life.