Are face masks still necessary?

“To wear a face mask. Or not to wear it. That is the question.”

On March 29, 2022, Adeel Hassan wrote an article in The New York Times saying that: “The highly contagious Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 , which led to a surge of coronavirus cases in Europe, is now the dominant version of new US. cases…Last week, the World Health Organization reiterated that BA.2 was the dominant version of Omicron around  the world.”

Despite the humongous pressure exerted in Washington, D.C., by the extremely powerful Transportation and Entertainment lobbies, the Center for Diseases Control (CDC) extended the draconian mask mandates for two more weeks until May 3rd. Even though we are tired of all the pandemic restrictions, we understood the logic of that directive for precaution in the face of an unknown threat still brewing out. New coronavirus cases started to uptick lately, with thousands of people becoming infected.  However, the more widespread coverage of the vaccines and the booster shots has markedly limited the hospital admissions and the morbidity; therein lies the danger that the real impact of the BA.2 variant is being under-counted as many patients consider it “a bad flu” and oftentimes ride it out, without even getting a test.

On April 18. 2022, Florida Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the mask mandate in a 59-page decision arguing that the agency had exceeded its legal authority under the Public Health Act of 1944. As soon as her decision was published officials , the Transportation authorities said that they could not enforce the mask provision in airports, bus and train stations, airplanes under the US jurisdiction, etc. We saw in the newscasts how as soon as flight attendants announced the decision over the airplanes’ loudspeakers, which provoked great joy in the cabins, the passengers started to unmask and swing their masks in the air in sigh of defiance.

Do we still need to wear masks for safety precautions? The answer is Yes and No.

Most Public Health experts agree that for fully vaccinated people that are in open spaces like the street, parks, outdoor cafes, etc., there is no need for them at present. However, the tighter the proximity with other human beings becomes, the greater need for wearing a mask to avoid infection. First of all, customers must respect the guidelines set by the businesses they patronize. A sign at the door that demands to wear a mask, must be respected, especially to avoid violent situations with staff. In an indoor space with great ventilation and tall ceilings, the need is relative. However if there are too many people inside and the physical space is limited, it is advisable to wear a mask. How do we asses if there is enough ventilation? Simple. If your nostril receptors can easily catch the various smells originated in human activities, like smoking, then the ventilation is poor indeed. Better to wear a mask then. Similarly even if there is not a Federal Mandate to wear a mask inside a plane at present, who would be foolish enough to risk a business trip or a family vacation? Sadly from the looks of it, there are plenty of people willing to play that Lottery.

The critical issue of demanding schoolchildren to wear masks is much trickier. First of all, children under 5 years rarely become sick of Covid 19, except for some tragic cases. Forcing students to wear masks inside the classrooms can be a self-defeating proposition as the children pull out their masks in the recesses to play together. Moreover, the USA has been somewhat of an outlier in this issue as most modern nations did not oblige Kindergarten and Primary School students to wear them.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.