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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/18/21

SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant: Mandatory Masking Needed

In my May 17 article criticizing the CDC director's inane directive that only unvaccinated persons need mask indoors, I predicted "Following Dr. Walensky's irresponsible announcement, spikes of cases, particularly in states and communities with low vaccination rates, are inevitable. Thousands, possibly tens of thousands more cases, and hundreds more deaths, are an inevitable result."

When no spike occurred in the month of June, I concluded that I had been mistaken. I did not not understand why, but was glad that larger numbers of people were not dying. Beginning in the last days of June, numbers of confirmed covid-19 cases began surging in states with low vaccination rates, a month after I thought that it would. Why the delay?

A new surge in cases did not occur in the first six weeks after Dr. Walensky's announcement, probably because the warm weather of May and June impaired the viability of circulating strains of the virus, reducing the risk of transmission from casual exposures. Hence the numbers of cases and deaths continued to decline in June in most states despite wholesale abandonment of masking and the refusal or inability of a third of the population to get vaccinated.

This lucky respite from the catastrophic consequences of Dr. Walensky's directive ended, however, with the dramatically rapid spread of the delta variant. Covid cases started surging first in Missouri in early June, and by the end of June in most of the country. In the same period the delta variant was becoming dominant. According to the CDC, by July 7, the delta variant accounted for more than half of new cases in the U.S.

It is likely that the delta variant, while spreading several times more rapidly than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain, also is more stable in the summer heat.

Regardless whether my guess is correct, cases are surging, especially the delta variant, against which vaccinations are somewhat less effective than against prior strains. The CDC's irresponsible announcement in May contributed to the lowered defenses against the renewed surge. The CDC and all local authorities now should reverse course and require, to the extent possible, that masks be worn by everyone indoors in public places. Not requiring masks will lead to thousands more preventable deaths.

Masking remains necessary because the leading defense against the pandemic, vaccination of enough of the population to achieve herd immunity (at least 85% in all localities), has been sabotaged by the venomous anti-vaxx propaganda being spewed out by Trump followers and Trump-supporting news channels. States that still have low vaccination rates can and should mandate vaccinations as soon as a vaccine receives FDA approval, expected soon for Pfizer.

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Andy Silver, MA, MSPH, is a retired unAmerican epidemiologist. In 1965, horrified by reports of American atrocities in Vietnam and the overwhelming public support for them, he decided that he was living under enemy occupation and that (more...)

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