It pains me to say it, but I’m beginning to lose faith in this country.
Because honestly, I don’t see how we’re ever going to operate as a truly united group of people when, even in the midst of a pandemic—which is still killing thousands of Americans per day—we can’t agree on something as simple and life-saving as wearing a mask.
Perhaps you’ve already heard, but the governors of Texas and Mississippi both recently announced that they’ll be lifting their state’s mask mandates and fully re-opening all businesses. (Montana, Iowa, and North Dakota have already done the same.)
And, well… as a doctor and a New Yorker, I have some serious concerns about this.
Let me begin by making one thing crystal clear: I’m not taking a political side here—in my opinion, politics have absolutely no place in pandemic decision-making. And that’s precisely my point today.
The America that I grew up in would never have allowed a political agenda to derail our country’s recovery from the most profound public health disaster to occur in our lifetimes. Yet, thanks to the questionable decisions of a handful of governors, that is exactly what is happening right now.
States, like Texas, are lifting their mask requirements—despite the fact that virus infection and transmission rates are still high. In fact, a Houston research team recently shared concerns of an uptick in community spread over the last eight weeks!
So easing restrictions at this point in time flies in the face of all the scientific evidence we have. Science that shows, quite clearly, that behaviors like mask-wearing and social distancing reduce both infection rates and deaths from COVID-19.
Of course, I realize this is not a convenient truth. Like many of us, I want nothing more than to return to my pre-pandemic life. (Quite frankly, even my dear dog Remington and I have had about enough of each other, despite how lucky I’ve been to have him by my side throughout this whole fiasco.)
But to try to force this issue when we are so close to a practical finish line is just plain ignorant. Yes, I realize that businesses need to be open and people need to get back to work. But why on earth can’t you just do it wearing a mask?
I live in one of the most densely populated parts of the United States. And guess what? Our infectivity rate is now among the lowest in the country—and it has been that way ever since we were hit first and hardest at the very start of this pandemic.
People get on the subway, dine at restaurants, go to the gym, and all sorts of other everyday activities. And yet still, our numbers remain low. Why? Because for the most part, we all wear masks.
In other words, you can begin to resume business as usual… with the proper precautions.
Stay the course
I was pleased, at least, to read that many stores and chains are staying the course by still requiring masks and declining to open at full capacity—including places like McDonald’s (which has never been in my good graces before).
In addition, places like Target, Kroger, Macy’s, and Starbucks have also said they will continue to require masks in their stores. And some county health departments—like Helena, Montana’s—have insisted they will maintain the mask mandate locally, too.
And while I’m extremely heartened to see some governments and businesses standing up for the public health, I have to say… this entire situation is a tragedy.
Even if you believe that COVID-19 is all a hoax—that the numbers mean nothing, that the deaths are overcounted, that the vaccine is a myth, that the virus itself is a myth—it doesn’t change the scientific facts that we have gathered.
Bottom line? As a doctor and a public health expert, I will always return to the science. (Though you hardly need to be an expert to see simple cause and effect.) The science shows that, over the past year, when mask mandates have been imposed, infection rates have dropped. And when mask mandates are lifted, infection rates go up.
And quite honestly, we have no chance of ending this pandemic and returning to “normal” until we have achieved adequate herd immunity through vaccination. So let’s stop this insanity and just follow the rules for a little bit longer… so we can finally put this all behind us and have our lives back again!
In other words, please ignore this handful of pandering politicians and continue to wear a mask wherever you go.
P.S. For additional ways to boost your immune system while we continue fighting against COVID-19, check out my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity. This comprehensive guide lists all of my top immune health recommendations. Click here to learn more!
“Public Health Experts Slam States’ Moves to Ditch Masks.” Medscape Medical News, 03/04/21. (medscape.com/viewarticle/946903)