Mask mandate should remain until COVID-19 is over

It is unclear how long the mask mandate will last in MOCO as well as in MCPS. Until then, we must get adjusted to life with medical masks.

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It is unclear how long the mask mandate will last in MOCO as well as in MCPS. Until then, we must get adjusted to life with medical masks.

By Nur Yavuz, Social Media Manager

Effective on Oct. 28, 2021, Montgomery County suspended its mask mandate for places available to the public. Approaching winter months, was lifting the mandate the smartest decision in the first place?

MOCO recorded seven consecutive days of fewer than 50 COVID-19 cases for 100,000 people per day. This so-called “moderate” transmission, according to the CDC standards, was a green light for officials to begin calling quits on required face coverings

Case reports from the New York Times state that COVID-19 cases have been on a steady decline since Sept. 19 for MOCO. However, “moderate” transmission conditions that only lasted seven days should not be enough to consider removing a mandate that was in place for nearly two years. Within three days of calling the decision, the number of cases almost passed the threshold for moderate transmission, causing wariness among MOCO residents and officials

Mask mandates should not be lifted until it can be proven through data that the public can sustain a low case count throughout winter months when it is easiest to contract disease.

Upgrading HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and cooling) systems are already expensive enough, at an average cost of over 12 thousand dollars. Lengthened periods of time spent indoors paired with the surplus of customary family gatherings during holidays and celebrations make it inevitably impossible to stay one hundred percent safe throughout winter months

With simple at-home COVID-19 tests available to buy at drugstores like CVS, keeping up with the timeline of social events and emphasizing safety precautions during indoor activities in the winter are of utmost importance, so that return to life without masks can be seamless

A mathematician who studies disease spread at the Harvard Medical School stated that interactions between people during winter months that occur indoors and in poorly ventilated spaces encourage the spread of disease. Until it can be proved that COVID-19 can be controlled in these conditions, it is not safe enough to begin reconsidering the duration of mask mandates.

The County Council President required that council members in charge of the decision must record seven days of substantial protocol before making any alterations to the decision to end the mask mandate

Even if MOCO residents are given a reprieve from wearing face coverings, an anonymous source reports that MCPS is highly unlikely to remove the use of masks for the 2021-2022 school year.

Last updated on Sept. 24, the MCPS COVID-19 health and safety procedures state that all MCPS students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status in the first half of the 2021-2022 school year

Face masks are the safest and most effective way to maintain low COVID-19 transmissions. Most businesses and stores available to the public offer free face masks and hand sanitizer. Even at WCHS, free masks and hand sanitizer are offered to students and staff

Schools can be said to be breeding grounds for all types of viruses and diseases, not just COVID-19. Children between the ages of six and 12 have the highest incidences of Flu activity, according to Centennial Medical. Young children do not always know what constitutes safe hygiene practices and what does not, allowing for germs to spread rapidly in the classroom. Pairing an easily transmissible airborne virus with a compacted building full of hundreds or even thousands of students results in the perfect place for disease to thrive.

As time passes, vaccinations continue to be approved for younger age groups. Moreover, the Pfizer vaccine is now authorized by the CDC for five to 11-year-olds to receive. This increases chances of maintaining a low number of cases throughout the county. Vaccination rates in younger children help contain transmission, further speeding up the process of ending the mask mandate in MOCO.

Until data proves that the numbers will not fluctuate, it is not safe to make a decision concerning mask mandates based on seven consecutive days of “moderate” transmission of COVID-19.