Monday, August 2, 2021

As we head into the next semester, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:

I think this is a good time to reflect on some evidence. Although this all comes from a post from the Arkansas Times' Arkansas Blog, a reliable independent paper that's been around a good long while, the evidence is sound.

So far, the evidence about vaccines looks sound. Even with the Delta variant surging through the US currently, there is still little need to worry about breakthrough infections (although some will happen), and even less need to panic about getting severely ill or hospitalized. That is good news. Obviously, the more people who get vaccinated, the better off all of us will be, especially any children 12 and under who are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. 

Masks also work. There is a reason we're seeing a return to mask mandates. They mitigate the spread of this novel coronavirus. To the extent that even asymptomatic carriers who were fully vaccinated may be capable of spreading this virus, it seems imperative wear masks indoors or in crowded outdoor areas. This is especially necessary in places where there the vaccine rate has been low.

Some of us will come back to work at colleges and universities required to wear masks for a bit longer. Some of our institutions may even require vaccinations for faculty, staff, and students. I live in a state that is taking the opposite approach. No public school or state agency can mandate masks (thanks to Act 1002 of 2021), and of course our state lagged behind much of the rest of the nation in terms of vaccination. This is far from an ideal environment in which to return to our classes and offices. Yet that is what we are going to be doing. Short of litigation that may or may not be pending to make the legislation null and void, all we can do is our best to survive. If our institutions will still allow for virtual meetings, or at least include a virtual option, then we should probably continue with that. We can advocate for mask usage, but that will probably have minimal effect. We can make sure we're using masks indoors for the time being, even if fully vaccinated. 

Really, we have the tools at our disposal in order to return to some sort of post-pandemic normal. Let's use them.

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