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Sprinkles from the Left

Commentators on the Left highlight the political aspect of the new guidance. They are generally supportive of the move & encourage tolerance for those who continue wearing masks despite the new guidance.

  • Some also raise concerns about not needing to show proof of vaccination to go maskless, which they fear could remove the incentive to get vaccinated and lead to the continued spread and mutation of the disease.

“Liberating the people from their face coverings is a far more visible step—one that Americans will feel, physically as well as symbolically, in their daily lives. It will also ease one of the most polarizing issues of the pandemic. The harsh political reality is that people might be more willing to credit Biden for ending the mask mandates than they are for keeping them healthy.”

Russell Berman, The Atlantic

“Thursday afternoon, during the 2 o’clock hour, the coronavirus pandemic ended for about a third of America. Henceforth, says Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the CDC, the 117,647,439 people who have been fully vaccinated have been freed from wearing masks outdoors or indoors (which would seem to include everywhere) and from the six-foot social distancing. Let’s all have a round of applause, like the kind we used to have for health-care workers.

If you’re one of those millions who is two weeks past after completion of your shots, go ahead and burn or bury your mask or keep it on if you like the look or feel, it doesn’t matter. You are protected. But, and this is a very big but, the other 213,801,842 Americans need to either get their second shot (36,338,873) or have their arm meet the needle. Otherwise, keep that mask on to shield yourself and others in this newly segregated society…

Joining the protected vaccinated minority, which we hope will rapidly become the majority, is simple. There are 80,000 locations to get the shot. Waits and lines are gone and there are all kinds of incentives, from cash to subway rides to food. And now the big incentive to show your face and get close up again. The incentive to save your life has always been there.

No one can be compelled to take a shot, but that time will come when the FDA grants regular approval as opposed to the emergency okay in place since November. There is nothing to fear and everything to gain. Get vaccinated today.”

Editorial Board, NY Daily News

“[When] it comes to medical rather than political and social debates, there is a strong argument for wearing masks, even after vaccination. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that Americans who are fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks inside and outside, we firmly believe that those who would feel more comfortable continuing to wear masks should be supported in choosing to do so…

Continuing to wear a mask in the service of others is possibly the most important reason of all. Walking down the street, it’s not apparent who’s vaccinated and who isn’t. As health care workers, we were privileged to be among the first to get the vaccine. But many of our peer-age friends and family weren’t until some time later. Months after vaccination we kept wearing masks because others wouldn’t know why we were bare-faced, since they have no way to be sure whether those around them have been vaccinated…

In medical school we are taught there are no good or bad therapies. Each treatment has its risks and benefits. The upside to masks is clear. And sure, masks also have their downsides. Masks separate us from one another. Masks sometimes make breathing feel difficult. Masks are hot and sweaty and uncomfortable. But the benefits of masks prevail. Masks in open, outdoor spaces will most likely dwindle because Covid-19 transmission there is low, especially when physically distanced. Masks in tight, congested situations might be a good idea for years, if not permanently, because there will always be populations at risk and likely be variants that pose a threat even to the vaccinated.

After more than a year of major uncertainty, we are looking for definitive answers. But that’s not how science informs our behaviors. Science is not absolute; it evolves. Each investigation is a signal, weak or strong, and the collective chorus gives us direction. We continue to learn more about treatments for Covid-19 as well as the benefits of vaccination and masks for prevention. The synergy of multiple treatments frequently provides a result far beyond the sum of the parts. This is the case in vaccines and masks. Both help us to reduce the spread and the severity of this pandemic — together they might actually stop it.”

Dr. Gunisha Kaur, physician and human rights researcher, and Dr. Natalia S. Ivascu, cardiac anesthesiologist and intensivist

For months, I have been criticizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being too cautious with its guidance for what fully vaccinated people can do. I saw little incentive for people to be vaccinated against covid-19 if they had to keep wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and refraining from nonessential travel. On Thursday, the CDC abruptly reversed course, announcing that fully vaccinated people can essentially resume all aspects of pre-pandemic life.

This announcement would be very welcome if not for one big problem: There is no concurrent requirement for proof of vaccination. Without it, the CDC announcement could end up increasing confusion, removing incentives for those yet to be inoculated and delaying the eventual goal of herd immunity that would get society truly back to normal…

The problem is this: You know what you’re doing, but you have no way to be confident of trusting everyone else. “

Dr. Leana S. Wen, Washington Post

Sprinkles from the Right

Commentators on the Right highlight the political aspect of the new guidance. Many are supportive of the move, advocating for a full return to normal due to the widespread availability of vaccines for anyone who wants to receive one.

  • Many also encourage tolerance for those who continue wearing masks despite the new guidance, and encourage the implementation of policies that allow people to make their own risk assessments.

“And voila! Suddenly the guidance has changed, and not just for outdoors — where the risk of transmission is beyond microscopic even for the unvaccinated — but now for indoors as well, with exceptions for high-density situations. This new guidance has nothing to do with changing scientific data, but is the result of political pressure being brought to bear on the CDC and White House to quit undermining vaccinations by pretending they don’t matter.”

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“We should not be imposing restrictions on Americans to protect those who’ve chosen to put themselves at risk — and who, disproportionately, oppose the restrictions just as much as they distrust the vaccines anyway. We also should not impose restrictions in deference to the folks who have managed to become addicted to the thrill of being stricter than everyone else about COVID protocols, even long after they’ve been vaccinated.

I get my own second Pfizer shot tomorrow. Technically, I won’t be “fully” protected for two weeks, but the first dose by itself becomes incredibly effective after just eleven days. Across several states, everyone I know who’s a bit older than I am — and thus really has something to worry about if they get infected — has been vaccinated for some time.

I am completely done caring about COVID. Face it. It’s over. Get back to normal…

These vaccines are awesome. They provide nearly complete protection against the most severe cases. They block transmission, too. And yes, the vaccines are effective even against those dreaded ‘variants.’ Actual scientists need to monitor that last situation and update the vaccines as required, but no one else has anything to be worried about until something changes…

At this point, if you’re still fully vulnerable to COVID, you almost certainly fall into one of three categories: You’ll be immune very soon, you have deliberately refused the vaccine, or you’re a child who has extremely low risk of a severe case if you get infected. On the society-wide level, the threat is fading as immunity grows, and the remaining problem is increasingly concentrated among people who are vulnerable by choice.”

Robert VerBruggen, National Review

“The CDC and subsequent statements by President Biden, including a tweet he sent that declared, ‘Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do’ set a treacherous precedent by indicating that only the vaccinated among us can return to normal life; affirming the vaccine as the only means to eliminating the pandemic.

This neglects the true definition of herd immunity where once a sufficient amount of the population has immunity, as demonstrated by declining cases, hospitalizations and deaths (and not the number of people vaccinated) the entire community can resume activities with low risk of transmission.

The wall of protection from the amount of natural immunity has consistently been ignored. To date, the amount of reinfections following natural infection are similar if not less than breakthrough cases after vaccination, demonstrating the robustness of natural immunity.

A study last month in The Lancet shows that people who recovered from a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection had an 84% lower risk of reinfection and a 93% lower risk of symptomatic infection. Some argue that this data only shows 7 months of follow up. They point out that how long the immunity lasts after infection remains unknown. But the same can be said of the COVID-19 vaccines, which also have limited long-term data…

The real goal is to achieve a previously acceptable level of risk when it comes to the health of the population. In California, there is currently a higher prevalence of active tuberculosis than COVID-19, yet the low incidence of the illness has not warranted routine mask wearing by the general public.

In a similar vein, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have higher combined mortality rates in young children than SARS-CoV-2 and mask mandates haven’t been instituted to prevent those infections despite higher caseloads during peak seasons…

Moving forward, messages from public health entities and government leadership must be transparent and unambiguous regarding fluctuating community transmission and true risk level while continuing to encourage adults to get vaccinated. Continued vaccination efforts will further lessen the spread of the virus and prevent future variants from escaping existing immunity from evolving.

At the current rate, the number hospitalized, and daily deaths will reach levels consistent with bad flu years by Memorial Day; a day which can also be known for ‘emaskipation.’

The emergency is over. It is prudent now for our leaders and health officials to have less tunnel vision and to allow the country to return to pre-COVID activities, without mask mandates.”

Nicole Saphier. M.D.; Fox News