Why Masks are Still Important

Photo+from+Wikimedia+Commons

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo Osuna ‘24

We all want this pandemic to end. We all want for the world to go back to how it was at the beginning of 2020, before COVID-19 started spreading. We all are tired of not being able to go talk to friends or eat lunch with family at the nearest restaurant. We all want to go back to the ‘old normal’, and, truth be told, with the vaccine, that ‘old normal’ could be fast approaching.

In Colorado, 1,292,845 people have been fully vaccinated, and 2,122,809 people have at least one dose. These are great numbers and we are making progress, but, in total, there are 5,759,000 people in the state of Colorado. This means that only approximately 22 percent of people in Colorado have been fully vaccinated. Even though 22 percent is a good number, we are still far from the 70 percent needed to reach herd immunity. We still have not gotten past the pandemic, but Governor Jared Polis has already started lifting the mask mandates for some indoor facilities in some counties.

Now is not the time to lift these mandates. As much as we want society to go back to normal, we have to keep mask mandates and COVID restrictions for a little longer.

Keeping the mandates is even being suggested by doctors. On NBC, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated “When you get a plateau at a level around 60,000 new infections per day, there’s always the risk of another surge, and that’s the thing we really want to avoid, because we are going in the right direction.”  There is a risk for a new surge nationwide, and we do not want to risk our cases spiking again. Not only does this risk more people dying, it also causes the pandemic to last longer. We are advancing with vaccinations, we are going in the right direction, the last thing we need right now is for the cases to spike again. The best way to stop the cases from spiking is keeping a respectful distance from others, wearing masks when in crowds, and frequently washing your hands. This will keep people in the community safe and it will benefit society by helping end the pandemic in the fastest way possible.

However, the fastest way possible will be gone if cases start going up. According to The New York Times, on March 22, 2021, in Colorado, we had 318 new cases. That week, we had an average of 888 cases per day. However, Gov. Polis started loosening mask mandates and so did everyone else, meaning that by April 16, we had started going up again. On April 16, 2021, we had 2,013 new cases, and we had an average of 1,661 cases per day. We almost doubled the weekly average for cases. This is something that we need to keep from happening again. We have had a trend upwards since March 22, and what we need to do is at least ‘flatten the curve.’ With restrictions still in place, it’s possible to stop the upwards trend.

Some people may say that an average of 1,661 cases per day is little. They may also say that higher risk people are already vaccinated and so is part of the general public. Although this may be true, we still risk the virus being in our community. This in turn increases the risk that more people will get sick, which then leads to more cases, more virus, and more risk. We get stuck in a loop that we can only get out by stopping the spread.

The loosening of the restrictions is even more worrying after what happened in Italy. According to Travel and Leisure, in Italy, some cities that hit “red zone” were forced to close down for Easter, only allowing people to leave their homes for work or health reasons. The cities were put on lockdown. This is something that we should try to prevent. With restrictions, we have a better chance of preventing that from happening.

We all might wish we were not hit by the pandemic, but we were, and as of right now, the best way to combat it is getting vaccinated and keeping restrictions.

We can still prevent another surge by wearing masks and keeping COVID protocols.

We can all help out by respecting the COVID restrictions in place, and soon enough, we will go back to the normal.