Op-Ed: Lifting mask orders endangers vulnerable people like me

key takeaways

  • California is one of several states that will end some mask regulations in indoor settings.
  • Lifting the mask requirement could harm at-risk groups.
  • Subvariants of Omicron are thought to be highly contagious, even in vaccinated populations.

Julia Métraux is a journalist specializing in health and disability. Her work has appeared in publications including Narratively, Huffpost, Poynter and Business Insider. Here, she explains how some states that have lifted mask mandates have failed to protect the most vulnerable.

Just before my class at UC Berkeley on Monday, I saw that on February 15, 2022, California will lift the requirement for fully vaccinated people to wear COVID-19 masks indoors. As someone with vasculitis, this news upsets me.

California isn’t the only state to lift its mask mandate. Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon and New Jersey are also changing some masking rules.

Vasculitis is an autoimmune disease that involves inflammation of blood vessels. Sometimes my condition causes my oxygen saturation level to drop into the 70% range (when it should be around 95% to 100%) due to inflammation in my lungs. Even going to class in person and everyone wearing a mask, I’m taking risks every day.

Like many people living in high-risk conditions, I have had to be very cautious during the COVID-19 pandemic. After March 2020, I saw only one non-family member for the rest of the year. But the problem is that unless others continue to take COVID-19 measures seriously, my own measures may be in vain.

While the original Omicron variant appears to have peaked in California, which is undoubtedly good news, Many people, including children under the age of 5 who have not yet been vaccinated, are still sick and hospitalized.

In the United States, COVID-19 mitigation strategies are centered on response rather than preventive measures. When the situation improved, mask-wearing guidelines were set aside, indoor businesses reopened, and restrictions were lifted.

People suffer from this approach. Many have lost loved ones, and many who contracted COVID-19 are now forced to find ways to cope with the long-term debilitating symptoms of the virus.

If people at high risk of COVID-19 or people with long-term COVID-19 infections were more involved in the public health decision-making process, we would have a very different strategy.

If people at high risk of COVID-19 or people with long-term COVID-19 infections were more involved in the public health decision-making process, we would have a very different strategy.

What the request to lift the mask ignores

In California, unvaccinated people over the age of 2 will still be required to wear masks indoors and elsewhere. According to preliminary reports, the school mask rule will remain in place for now. It is unclear how this will affect students at colleges and universities.

While Omicron may be receding, a sub-variant of Omicron called BA.2 is spreading and highly contagious. By lifting the mask order, officials ignored the potential threat. It has been found in the United States and is now the dominant strain in other countries such as Denmark. A new wave may be coming.

The cancellation of the COVID-19 mask guidelines also ignores the stress that COVID-19 variants are putting on hospitals, even for those so-called “mild” ones. Due to overcrowded hospitals, many elective surgeries for chronically ill patients have been delayed or even canceled in California and across the country. Many elective surgeries are not entirely optional for someone’s health.as California Affairs Surgery such as lung transplants has reportedly been delayed.

Officials described the Omicron variant and some of the symptoms of long-term COVID as mild, also indicating a complete lack of understanding of how chronic disease can be debilitating. When I was in the middle of a severe vasculitis attack, my chronic fatigue made it difficult for me to get any work done.This might be considered a “mild” symptom since it wouldn’t send me to the hospital, but It has had no minor impact on my life.

That’s not to say that wearing a mask all the time isn’t difficult. I am a hearing impaired person and my hearing loss was diagnosed late due to my habit of lip reading. I only really realized how my hearing loss was affecting my hearing when people started wearing masks at the beginning of the pandemic. Masking complicates this.

But if everyone continues to wear masks when necessary, it will be safer for myself and other immunocompromised people to travel around the world.

Luckily, UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley still have mask-wearing regulations so far, so the rug hasn’t quite pulled out from under me. However, I hope California and other states will protect the vulnerable and put us first.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.