I hear this all the time and the following quote… “I am sick of wearing a covering over my face. It is an invasion of my personal space and an affront to my First Amendment rights”. BUT, I have no choice. I gladly wear a face covering at work, and should wear a face mask in certain congregate settings, and when working around the vulnerable and unvaccinated. I realize that we are all sick of this subject, but it bears discussion because we are nearing the end of an exhausting Pandemic ride. This editorial has nothing to do with ‘political agendas or control’ and everything to do with sound public health guidance for all of us to end this Pandemic ASAP. The bottom line is to keep all of us healthy.

I am well aware of the sentiments of some in our community and state that are ardent advocates of NO FACE MASKS, going so far as to call them facial G-strings, face diapers, etc. They are wrong. They only serve to prolong the end to this Pandemic. The true experts tell us “Universal masking is the key to safe school attendance” as stated clearly by Kristina Bryant, current President of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, quoted in Family Practice News Sept 2021. In study after study, from Wisconsin to Salt Lake City to Duke University—in the ABC Science Collaborative, universal masking led to significantly lower rates of transmission. Dr. Zimmerman stated clearly in this article-“We know that if the goal is to reduce transmission of Covid-19 in school, there are two effective ways to do that—1. Vaccination and 2. Masking. The science tells us that masking can be extremely effective, particularly for those that cannot get vaccinated” and that is exactly where we have been in this current school year. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated clearly that all children should universally mask until vaccinated.

Face masks are exactly why we have been able to allow ongoing ON SIGHT education this year safely and effectively in USD 409 with no interruptions. Because of our administrative leadership and wonderful staff at 80% plus vaccination rate, we have had No shut downs, No schedule changes, and most important No lost learning. We have maintained a USD 409 community infection rate at approximately 1% or less week after week. Now we are doing “in school” on sight testing. We are science in real time.

In June it appeared we had met our goal in Atchison, as we were at 0% infection rate for 2 weeks. But the Delta variant took care of that. And here we are again. But we have so many more tools now and so much more knowledge than we certainly did at the beginning. I feel we will prevail and soon be at a less than 5% target infection rate in the community and state.

I am well aware of the ‘political blowback’ on this issue. But you know that this virus doesn’t care who you are and which political party you affiliate with. I know that time and history are on my side and that taking a long view will prove the public health experts right about this and not our internet and FB friends. The way we get to the final end is through frequent testing when indicated, wearing face masks in certain situations, getting VOLUNTARILY vaccinated and of course, unfortunately getting Covid and recovering (hopefully).

Like you I am very fatigued by this Pandemic. 6 of my patients have died. It is hard to believe that we will ever get back to “the way we were”. Modern medicine and our society have experienced some permanent changes. Face mask mandates will not be one of them.

(1) comment

HighRoad

It is a shame that you could not recognize "history and time" being on your side when voting to replace the racist mascot. Both history and time will remember your opposition when voting the first time and your silence when voting the second time. I'm hopeful, that in the short time you remain in a state office position, you will keep "history and time" in mind on other decisions you will be asked to weigh in on.

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