To Mask or Not to Mask

The confusing and often conflicting guidelines and how to make sense out of them

Dr. Zach Zachariah

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Photo by Kobby Mendez on Unsplash

On April 18, 2022, Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida struck down the federal mask mandate, saying it exceeded the statutory authority of the CDC. The TSA stopped enforcing the mask mandate at airports, and airlines made masks optional on domestic flights. The Justice Department is planning to appeal the decision. Statewide mask mandates indoors have all but disappeared.

Coronavirus cases were already on the upswing in the Northeast as the Omicron subvariant BA.2, which is more contagious than its predecessor, became the predominant strain in the U.S. The BA.2 subvariant has given rise to another subvariant, and its share of new Coronavirus cases is growing. According to estimates by the CDC, the newly identified form, BA.2.12.1, makes up about 36 percent of all new infections in the United States.

As reported by the New York Times, COVID cases are increasing in all but seven states and territories. The daily average for new cases on May 10 was 73,056, a 49% increase from two weeks ago. COVID infections in the U.S. may be an undercount as many people who test for the disease at home will not be reporting the results. Hospitalizations in the U.S. increased by 21% over the past two-week period. A study by the Washington State Department of Health has found that the hospitalization rate for those not vaccinated against the Coronavirus is up to 4.4 times higher than those who are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Community Level

The CDC has redefined COVID-19 community levels as low, medium, and high based on the number of hospital beds used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases. Each county may track community levels and prevention steps at the COVID data tracker. The community level is still low in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where we live. According to the new mask guidelines from the CDC, people may choose to wear masks at any time. However, if the community level is high in any particular area, the recommendation is to wear a mask in public.

The alert levels have been raised to “high” in many counties across the Northeastern United States, particularly in New York…

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Dr. Zach Zachariah

Ph.D. chemist with an M.B.A. | Enrolled Agent | Writes on science | economy | taxes | public interest topics | American politics | Indian-Americans | COVID-19