Can We Just Be Done With This Pandemic Already?
[guest post by Dana]
In Covid vaccine news, the U.S. will be sending vaccines to other parts of the world:
President Joe Biden plans to send an additional 20 million doses of U.S. coronavirus vaccines abroad by the end of June — including, for the first time, shots authorized for domestic use, where supply is beginning to outstrip demand.
Biden will announce Monday that he’ll export 20 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. or Johnson & Johnson, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca Plc doses he had already planned to give to other countries, according to a senior administration official familiar with the plan.
The official, who asked not to be identified ahead of planned remarks from the president, stressed that the measures are only a first step as the U.S. pivots its attention to quelling the pandemic abroad. Biden has previously pledged that the U.S. would soon become an “arsenal” of global vaccine supply.
The administration has not identified which countries will be receiving the shipments.
Here is where the U.S. currently stands with regard to those vaccinated:
Meanwhile, in spite of the CDC’s new guidelines released last week, it appears that mask-wearing is the new norm for some people, even those fully vaccinated:
More than 500 USA TODAY readers shared their thoughts on whether the mask policy changes would change their shopping habits with approximately 80% self-reporting as fully vaccinated. Many said they plan to keep wearing masks while others who self-reported as unvaccinated said they would not wear masks or get the vaccine.
More on the vaccinated who choose to continue wearing their masks:
Even as a combination of evolving public health recommendations and pandemic fatigue lead more Americans to toss the masks they’ve worn for more than a year, Mr. Glickman is among those who say they plan to keep their faces covered in public indefinitely.
For people like Mr. Glickman, a combination of anxiety, murky information about new virus variants and the emergence of an obdurate and sizable faction of vaccine holdouts means mask-free life is on hold — possibly forever.
“I have no problem being one of the only people,” said Mr. Glickman, a professional photographer and musician from Albany, N.Y. “But I don’t think I’m going to be the only one.”
[M]asks have emerged as a dystopian political flash point during the pandemic. A map of states that enforced mask mandates corresponds closely with how people in those states voted for president.
But as more Americans become vaccinated and virus restrictions loosen, masks are at the center of a second round in the country’s culture brawl. This time, people who choose to continue to cover their faces have become targets of public ire.
In interviews, vaccinated people who continue to wear masks said they are increasingly under pressure, especially in recent days; friends and family have urged them to relax, or even have suggested that they are paranoid.
But for some people, no newfound freedom will persuade them to reveal their faces just yet. After a year, they say they have grown accustomed to the masks and glad for the extra safety they provide.
…“I’m in no hurry; why should I be in a hurry?” said Mr. Jones, who became fully vaccinated about a month and a half ago. Until New York City reaches a higher level of vaccination — just 40 percent are completely vaccinated — he believes it’s too risky to unmask. “Being around is more important. That’s what counts. I’m an old man — I’d like to be around as long as I can.”
Public health data shows that masking and social distancing have most likely had far-reaching positive impacts, beyond slowing the spread of Covid-19. While over 34,000 adults died from influenza in the 2018-19 season, this year deaths are on track to remain in the hundreds, according to C.D.C. data. Mask wearers say their seasonal allergy symptoms seem to be lessened.
Leni Cohen, 51, a retired kindergarten teacher from New York City who has a compromised immune system, said she planned to continue wearing a mask …“Kindergartners, while adorable, are quick to share their secretions…”
Barry J. Neely, 41, a composer from Los Angeles, fell ill with the coronavirus in March 2020 and battled symptoms for months. He has also struggled with guilt over whether he had inadvertently infected people he came in contact with before his diagnosis — which came at a time when the government discouraged mask use.
He now plans to wear a mask whenever he feels under the weather, in perpetuity.
For a number of so-called perma-maskers, the decision is informed by trauma: They endured the coronavirus or witnessed loved ones die, and they say taking off their mask makes them feel terrifyingly vulnerable.
After contracting the coronavirus, Mr. Glickman fell ill with pneumonia. He still experiences gastrointestinal problems and neurological symptoms, including extreme lightheadedness and problems with his sight. “Floaters” swim in his field of vision, and on one occasion, he said, everything turned yellow.
Post-coronavirus trauma appears to be common: A survey of nearly 400 Covid patients by doctors at Agostino Gemelli hospital in Italy showed 30 percent developed post-traumatic stress disorder after a severe illness.
“There is an element of precaution that is brought on by the emotional and psychological impact with what I went through,” Mr. Glickman said of his masking. “I don’t think it is necessarily unjustified. I think it is somewhere in the middle.”
“As a woman, we feel like we have to, when we go out in public, put on a little bit of makeup, eyeliner, blush,” said Keela Samis, 57, an attorney from St. Petersburg, Fla., who is vaccinated and does not plan to stop wearing a mask. “With a mask I don’t have to. It simplified my life.”
Ms. Samis added: “Even if I’m the only person on planet Earth that continues to wear the mask, if that’s what makes me feel comfortable, I’ll wear the mask.”
Whether you feel the need to continue wearing a mask after being fully vaccinated or not, maybe not harass anyone for their personal decision that is none of your business because it doesn’t impact you in any way. The person choosing to wear a mask isn’t putting you at risk by potentially infecting you with a virus. It’s a personal decision, and as we see in the linked report, there are a variety of reasons why a fully vaccinated person may keep wearing a mask. Pre-vaccine the harassment was “Why are you wearing a mask?” and now, as we’re in the midst of vaccines, the harassment remains “Why are you wearing a mask?”. In my experience, it’s the same group of people doing the harassment.
Just get vaccinated already.