Herald Staff Writer
“Take them into my driveway and burn them!” a friend of mine wrote.
I’d shared an article from a Virginia newspaper about what to do with face masks now that mandates are evaporating everywhere as COVID case rates plummet and vaccination rates rise. Local ordinances depending, of course, mask-burning parties seem like just the thing to celebrate the end of this long nightmare.
Most of us have accumulated quite a collection, though. Myself, I have two celebrating the Coast Guard, one my Hogwarts House of “Ravenclaw” and two Scottish tartans, among others. Of that accumulation, it might be a good idea to save a few back for a couple reasons.
Among those reasons is not, however, to help stop the spread of COVID. Any advice from health experts to that effect has been silly from the outset. It defies all logic. The COVID-19 vaccines have exceeded anyone’s expectations. They are, in fact, among the most effective vaccines ever created. The chances of a fully vaccinated person contracting or transmitting infection is negligible. Before vaccination, they’re absolutely essential. After vaccination, they’re theater.
However, the 2020-2021 flu season was a flat-out no-show. The reason is obvious and simple. The same things we were doing to minimize COVID utterly shut out influenza, a less contagious virus. It would probably be a good idea for the U.S. to adopt the Asian custom of masking during flu season to keep it at bay. Flu vaccines are considerably less effective than the ones for COVID; I got the flu two years in a row despite vaccination. I don’t enjoy it.
And there’s a more unfortunate reason to keep the masks around. Spend just a few minutes in the comments section under anything at all to do with COVID and you’ll notice a distinct pattern. There is almost complete overlap between those who resist masks and those who resist vaccines. This means the calls from health officials for the unvaccinated to continue to wear masks fall not only on deaf ears but on mocking lips. Now, while the vaccinated population can safely shrug and say “whatever,” there is a population that cannot be vaccinated, not the least of which is children under 12. Vaccine approval for those ages is still many months away.
So, again, burn ordinances permitting, have your mask-burning party. But for the foreseeable future, it would probably be a good idea to leave your kids and other unvaccinateable folks at home when you can and keep a few masks handy for when you can’t.
And a few for the flu.