If Covid cases increase, it’s yes to masks, no to mandates

A version of this story appears in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. Sign up for free to get it in your inbox here.



CNN

Americans have said goodbye to Covid-19, but the disease has not gone away.

In China, the government has finally started to relax the draconian zero-Covid policy. In the meantime, In the US, most Americans have resigned themselves to the notion that Covid-19 will not gone in their lives and many empathize Return to masking is uncomfortable.

The current surge in Covid-19 cases is one leg of a triple threat – a “tridemic,” a “triple demic,” or a “trifecta” as some news organizations call it — along with a bad flu season and an RSV outbreak mostly in children.

RELATED: Get CNN’s full report on the three viruses by Jacqueline Howard.

People are coughing and sick. Hospitals are stressed. Some local health officials are warning that indoor masking could return.

These warnings come as does the covenant The government is going in the opposite direction with vaccines. The House of Representatives passed a defense on Thursday Bill removing a Covid vaccine requirement for members of the military.

In Los Angeles, where there is a moderate but increasing spread of Covid-19, District Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on April 1, inclusive universal indoor masking.”

The US government’s official guidance for individuals has not changed since September. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend masking for everyone on public transportation (requirements lapsed). But masking is only recommended in other public settings for all people in communities where there are high levels of transmission. People at higher risk of disease should wear masks at intermediate spreads, such as in Los Angeles County.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters Monday that about 5% of the population currently resides in a high-spread county. County-level data from the CDC suggests more than two-thirds of Americans live in an area with low transmission, but that cases are rising.

Walensky said the most important protection people have against the triple threat is to keep up to date with Covid-19 vaccines and boosters, and to get an annual flu shot. Please stay at home even if you are sick.

dr Anthony Fauci, the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, also spoke about the need to dress up during his final White House briefing in late November.

In his view, nobody is talking about mask requirements because Americans have the tools to stay safe.

Note Fauci’s phrasing when he said that in addition to immunizations and testing for flu and Covid-19, “we have the ability, in certain circumstances, using good judgment, to wear masks in indoor gathering spaces, where appropriate.”

He also said it’s important to look at masks as part of a strategy to protect yourself.

“You can count masking, vaccines, boosters, testing — all of these are part of the spectrum of protecting yourself and your family,” Fauci said.

He echoed that sentiment in an exit interview with NBC News, where he suggested people should mask up if necessary, but was careful to say it’s just a recommendation.

“I’m not talking about commissioning anything,” Fauci said. “I’m talking about just common sense to say, ‘You know, I really don’t want to take the risk of getting infected, and even more so passing it on to someone who is a vulnerable member of my family.’ ”

That personal assessment is important, he said, because different people have different risks.

A reporter at the White House briefing argued that the word “masking” had become pejorative in some places.

“No, it shouldn’t be,” Fauci said. “I know sometimes you feel guilty when you come in and have a mask and nobody has a mask. You shouldn’t feel guilty.”

Half of Americans said they have fully returned to their pre-Covid routines in an Axios Ipsos poll released this week.

More than two-thirds of Americans said they rarely or never wear a mask outside the home. Only 14% said their employer requires them to wear a mask.

In retrospect, the mask requirement may have contributed to growing skepticism among officials. Almost half, 45%, in the Axios Ipsos poll agreed with the idea that public health officials have lied to the public about the effectiveness of masks and vaccines in preventing the spread of the virus.

But if Covid-19 cases increased, just under two-thirds of Americans, 65%, said they would wear a mask.

“Most Americans had a hands-on attitude about masks and mask requirements,” Chris Jackson, senior vice president of public affairs at Ipsos, told me in an email. “As people felt at risk of COVID, they wore masks and supported the requirements. But now that most people feel the risk to them is fairly low, few carry or support the requirement to wear masks.”

The last time Ipsos asked for support for mask requirements was in July, when 45% supported local government requirements, compared to more than two-thirds support in January 2022.

Masks reduce the spread of Covid-19, even in schools, according to a recent Harvard University study documented in The New York Times, which examined Covid-19 cases in two school districts that continued to require masks after the rest of the Boston area Districts made them optional in the spring.

This will be the conundrum for public health officials as Covid-19 cases continue with this ‘triple pandemic’ – how to get people to wear masks without trying they do it.

Leave a Comment