Denielle Cazzolla: Masks are gone but not forgotten

·3 min read

Jul. 9—It still seems weird to me to not put my mask on in meetings, or going to the store, or going just about anywhere inside that isn't my office or my home.

But I am getting used to it.

For a couple weeks after the mask mandate was lifted for vaccinated people in my office, I still found myself grabbing my mask to put it on to talk to people in my department, even though they were also vaccinated.

For a few weeks after stores starting allowing fully vaccinated people to enter mask-less, I still wore my mask. I was fully vaccinated and had had COVID, so I wasn't worried about contracting it again.

But my kids weren't fully vaccinated yet, and the science of transmission isn't totally clear, so I continued to wear my mask. I wore my mask when they got their first and second shots at the pharmacy.

They hit their official fully vaccinated status on Friday, so they won't need their masks again this summer. We don't yet know what the school year will bring

So now, I am over it. In most cases, I am going mask-less.

That's not to say I will be throwing out or burning my masks. They are still needed in certain settings, including health care institutions and mass transit (not that my family needs to worry about mass transit in Downsville).

Also, they are good to keep around.

We've learned that they help control the spread of respiratory illness. So when cold season comes around, they will come in handy.

But mostly, I am concerned we may need them again because of COVID.

Our area has re-opened, as most regulations have been lifted. But that can be reversed if we start seeing outbreaks again, especially since the prevalent strain, the delta variant, is more contagious and more deadly than previous ones.

The good news, though, is the vaccines appear to be effective on the variant.

But our area is still lagging behind in vaccinations, and I have a feeling there will not be a rush in the near future to get a COVID shot. I don't know if we will ever hit the 70% goal locally.

There are too many people, many I know, who refuse to get vaccinated. Some have valid health reasons. Others seem to believe the theories of infertility, DNA manipulation, microchips and mind control, among others.

Some also have concerns over how quickly the vaccines were developed and the lack of information on the long-term effects.

I was concerned at first, as well. But once I researched it, I found that the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) were based on more than a decade of research into other coronaviruses. That eased my fears greatly.

I feel a lot better about the safety of my family. But I am less sure about when we will truly be over COVID.

The United States is doing better than many countries, but there are still places in America where the virus isn't under control. Most of those are states or areas with low vaccination rates.

It is the same in other nations. Those that haven't been able to get a large portion of their population, either through lack of resources or citizen refusal, are still suffering high rates of infection.

Lockdowns worked for the short term, but that is not a long-term answer. Vaccination is the key to getting to a truly post-COVID world.

I know that the death rate of COVID is relatively low, but it is much higher than the flu. My bigger concern is what the long-term effects of contracting COVID may be. That is something we are just starting to find out.

I hope that some of those people who have so far refused to get vaccinated will reconsider, for their own safety and the safety and prosperity of others

Denielle Cazzolla is editor of The Daily Star. She can be reached at 607-441-7259 or dcazzolla@thedailystar.com. Follow her @DS_DenielleC on Twitter.

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