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  • Writer's pictureKate Hill

Face Masks and their Effectiveness

The country is reaching a state of herd immunity as vaccines are becoming more and more available. This does not serve as a reason to stop wearing a face mask.

According to a 2021 article in the Smithsonian Magazine,

“Since scientists haven’t yet found evidence that the vaccines provide mucosal immunity, someone who is vaccinated and has no symptoms of illness may be carrying the live SARS-CoV-2 virus and spreading it to others when they cough, breath or sneeze.”

In short, face masks are still effective throughout the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic, because despite the vaccine, you can still contract the virus, and you are still at risk of infecting other people.

The CDC website informed the public,

“SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, most commonly spreads from person-to-person by respiratory droplets during close physical contact (within 6 feet or a few inches longer than a typical pool noodle, both in and out of the water).”

Summarized, this means that the public wears cloth face coverings to stop the spread of those saliva droplets that naturally expel into the air while one is engaging in conversation with someone at less than six feet apart.

The CDC’s director, Robert Redfield, has emphasized from the beginning of the pandemic that,

“Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Coinciding with his statement, The Advisory Board website wrote,

“Experts say that wearing a cloth face is better than no mask at all.”

The University of Maryland Medical System also mentioned,

“Herd immunity is when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, thus providing indirect protection to people who aren't immune to the disease. Vaccines are the best tactic for creating herd immunity.

Even if the majority of the population has had an infectious disease, if there is no vaccine, the disease can still be transmitted among children who haven't yet been exposed to the virus and people who are immunocompromised.

At this point in time, there are several reasons why herd immunity cannot help stem the pandemic in the United States. Instead, we must rely on other prevention measures.”

In addition, it’s well-known that there is more than one strand of the virus. In the state of Indiana, the vaccine is currently only available to those who are age 55 and over, or health care workers, as announced March 3rd. As evident by the CDC, it is vitally important to get vaccinated if eligible because,

“Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. Experts also think that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help us get back to normal.”

That being said, many in the School City of Mishawaka have not received the vaccine and likely won’t for an extended period of time. Mishawaka sophomore Kami Wilemon said,

“I think face masks are effective, but people don’t wear them correctly. The problem is in sports especially. I get out of breath at practice, and so I end up pulling it down.”

The virus is still present in society and continues to affect people and their families from all walks of life. Even though students of all grade levels are beginning to attend in-person school four days a week, and it seems like the pandemic is coming to an end in the near future, it will remain an inconvenience if Americans start getting lax in protection and safety protocols at the first sign of normalcy.

“We are not in a place where we can predict,” supported Jen Psaki, WH Press Secretary.

Remember that you aren't just protecting yourself, you are also protecting those around you by taking the appropriate health precautions such as hand-washing, sanitizing, and wearing your masks in all public areas, in these strange times.

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