Many doctors expressed concern their patients are frustrated by the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on mask-wearing and other COVID-19 precautions.
On Tuesday, the CDC recommended people who have been vaccinated should “wear a mask indoors in public … in an area of substantial or high transmission” to reduce the risk of being infected with the delta variant and possibly spreading it to others.
Dr. Juliette Madrigal, a primary care physician in Marble Falls, Texas, has several patients who find the guidelines frustrating.
“They are very frustrated in that they got the vaccine in the hopes that they would have a lot more freedom, maybe be able to get rid of the masks, travel freely, and so forth,” Madrigal said.
Still, she said she agrees with the new CDC guidelines.
“I’m following the guidelines,” Madrigal said. “Even if you’re vaccinated, if you are exposed over and over, that increases your chances of getting hit with a large viral load. And with the delta variant it doesn’t take near as much of an exposure to catch it.”
Madrigal said she’s seen more people coming into her clinics with COVID-19. About 5% are those who have been vaccinated.
Dr. Alieta Eck, who runs an internal medicine practice in Piscataway, New Jersey, said her patients are not happy about the new guidelines.
“All they do is shake their heads because all these rules keep changing, and none of it makes much sense,” Eck said. “I think you are going to see a lot more people resist these rules.”
On Friday, the CDC released a study to back up its new guidelines, one examining 469 cases of the delta variant in Massachusetts, of which almost 75% had been previously vaccinated. The viral loads in those vaccinated were high enough to transmit the virus to others.
Previously in May, the CDC announced that vaccinated individuals didn’t need to use masks in most settings.
The reversal angered some patients, who call it a mixed message.
"I think it's pretty [confusing]. I mean, what is the point of the vaccine if it doesn't protect us from all variants of COVID?" Brenda Morrison, a Maryland resident who is vaccinated, told the NBC affiliate in Baltimore.
Dr. Carolyn Salter, a primary care physician who runs the Sycamore Medical Clinic in Palestine, Texas, disputes that the CDC is sending a mixed message. She argued Texas Gov. Greg Abbott created more problems when he recently said he would not impose a statewide mask mandate. Earlier in the year, he prohibited government entities in Texas, including public schools, from imposing mask mandates.
“What is confusing is when Gov. Greg Abbott says nobody has to wear a mask anymore … That’s where the confusion comes from,” Salter said. “There is also a lot of confusion among other Republican leaders, with some saying, Get the vaccine and wear a mask,' with others saying, 'Don’t do it.' When political leadership is not aligned on recommendation, there is going to be confusion.”
In 2020, Salter ran as a Democrat for the House of Representatives from the 5th Congressional district in Texas.
Dr. Jeremy Levin said he thinks the CDC is doing the best it can, given the circumstances.
“In the fog of war — and we are in a war with the coronavirus — you get confused messages until you really understand what is going on," said Levin, chairman of OVID Therapeutics in New York City. “I think the CDC and other government organizations will get the message right.”
But Eck disagrees, arguing it has less to do with clear guidelines and more with government exercising power.
“My impression is that politicians just want to control us,” she said.
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Original Author: David Hogberg
Original Location: Doctors see patients frustrated with new COVID-19 masking guidelines