Fifth graders in their classroom at school via Unsplash.

The Battle of The Masks

As more and more Americans are getting vaccinated, the CDC guidelines on masks are being lifted. This comes a few weeks after President Joe Biden states in a press conference, for those who are fully vaccinated can go outside without wearing a mask.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a tweet, “If you are a city employee and you have not been fully vaccinated, you must wear your mask.”

Good Morning America reported, Houston, TX is lifting its mask mandates by the end of this week. Starting May 21st, any official who tries to mandate masks wearing even for unvaccinated residents could face a $1000 fine.

 

“What I hope even in states where governments are saying there’s no longer a mandate, people recognize that to keep children safe you need to continue to wear masks indoors. I expect the CDC will be revisiting the schools guidance for the fall, but until then I would encourage everyone whether it’s required or not to follow that guidance and make sure that children are wearing their mask,” said Dr. Richard Besser, Former Acting Director of the CDC, CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Pediatrician.

 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning mask mandates for government properties across the state including public schools. Hyatt Hotel became the first hotel mega chain to lift mask requirements for fully vaccinated guest. However, there are those who are immunocompromised, and studies show the vaccine has no effect on them.

 

“I don’t look like I had a kidney transplant. If you walk by me down the street, you’re never gonna know. I’m high risk, you still need to act like the person standing next to you has something that you don’t know about,” said Maria Hoffman.

 

Hoffman of South Carolina is 39 years old who is fully vaccinated, but is a kidney transplant patient who continues to practice social distancing and wear a mask, but the vaccine has no effect on her. She can still become infected.

As the mask mandate is being lifted, more and more companies are dropping the mandatory masks rule. A person would no longer be required to wear their masks out in public nor in the restaurants.

“You don’t run the city of Houston and the city employees, and the city facilities; the mayor does,” said Mayor Turner.

Public schools have until June 4th to uplift their masks mandate. This comes as a shock to most parents because children under the age of 12 are not vaccinated.

“I think what it says to me is, there’s a lot of states in America where there’s major push back with the government telling you, you have to do something, but that doesn’t mean that you can change your behavior and that it’s safe,” said Dr. Besser.

People still have a choice whether or not to continue wearing their mask. It’s not only to protect them, but those around them. The questions that are arising are; Does the governor care about the people of Houston? What message are they sending to the parents, students, teachers, and staff?

Ovidia Molina, President of the Texas State Teachers Association, cares about the health and protection of the students along with the teachers and staff. She knows removing the masks mandate will have a series of affects on the students and parents.

“The message that you’re sending to our educator is that, we don’t care about protecting your life,” said Molina.

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages students to continue wearing their masks. They say, “Masks are still an important way to protect children from COVID-19, especially those under age 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.”

Governors met with the Biden Administration on a private call to express their concerns and confusion about the new CDC guidelines.

“We had to scramble and we didn’t really have the same uniformity of message that I think we’ve had up until now,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on the call.

To parents with children 12 or older, Dr. Besser highly recommends vaccinations. It’s safe, it’s effective, and it can help protect your children. With more than 60% of American’s not fully vaccinated including children, governors express concerns of another COVID outbreak with students finishing up these last few weeks of school without a mask.

In addition, all students returning to school for the 2021-22 school year, who are not fully vaccinated, has a greater chance of spreading the virus. This can still cause people who are vaccinated to get infected and could possibly affect more people.

“For younger children, I would say continue to follow the guidance, but a couple things to recognize, thankfully the younger you are the less likely it is to have severe disease, to be hospitalized, and thankfully to die and in every state across the country the numbers are going down,” said Dr. Besser.

Dr. Besser expects over time that we are going to see loosening of the requirements and the restrictions in people lives because it will become increasingly safe to do so.

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