Letter to the Editor: Change Mask Requirement to a Recommendation

~ Submitted by Don McInnis

I think that the Bedford Board of Health (BOH) should strongly consider revising its mask policy from a ‘mandate’ to a ‘recommendation’.  We are adults and free to make our own choices.  Given the current death and hospitalization rates in Massachusetts, the choice to wear a mask or have one’s family wear one, or as a business owner to require one’s patrons or employees to wear one should be left up to them.  That’s their choice and ours as Americans.

Over 83% of eligible Massachusetts adults have gotten the vaccine. I am over 70 and don’t know anyone over 70 that haven’t gotten the vaccine and most already have the bolster.  Here in Massachusetts, we have by-and-large heeded the advice of our medical experts to get the vaccine and the booster.

The BOH should base their decision on death & hospitalization rates primarily in Bedford and secondarily on Massachusetts rates for deaths & hospitalizations.  With the improvements in therapeutics and vaccines, case rates are no longer as relevant.  Like the flu, COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time and we have to learn to deal with it with reasonable decisions.

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8 months ago

Agreed completely.
This new virus is very infectious for sure but generally mild.

Notes from a call with Edward Ryan MD, Director of International Infectious Disease at Massachusetts General Hospital:

1 Close to 100% of the positive cases in MA are Omicron. Delta is almost completely gone from New England.
2 This surge will peak sometime between 1/10 and 1/21 and then begin a quick downhill journey of two to four weeks.
3 We will end up with a 20-50% positivity rate.
4 February will be clean up mode, March will begin to return to “normal”
5 Omicron lives in your nose and upper respiratory area which is what makes it so contagious. It isn’t able to bond with your lungs like the other variants.
6 The increased hospitalizations should be taken with a grain of salt as most of them are secondary admissions (i.e. people coming in for surgery, broken bones, etc. who are tested for COVID)
7 We won’t need a booster for omicron because they wouldn’t be able to develop one before it’s completely gone and we’re all going to get it which will give us the immunity we need to get through it.
8 COVID will join the 4 other coronaviruses we deal with that cause the common cold, upper respiratory infections, RSV, etc. It will become a pediatric disease mainly affecting young children with no immunity.
9 40% of those infected will be asymptomatic
10 Rapid tests are 50-80% sensitive to those with symptoms, only 30-60% sensitive to those without symptoms
11 Contact tracing is worthless because we’re all going to get it and there’s no way we could keep up with it.
12 We are fighting the last war with COVID and should be pivoting back to normal life, but society isn’t quite ready for it yet.
13 There is no need to stay home from work or to be a hermit unless you’re immunocompromised or 85 or older, but he does recommend staying away from large gatherings for the next six weeks.
14 Spring/Summer will be really nice!

9 months ago

I agree completely! It is time to make the shift from a mandate to a recommendation.

Ben Root
Ben Root
9 months ago

No. We are at the start of a new Delta wave, and possibly soon after that an Omicron wave. Hospitalization and deaths are just two important factors that should be considered. Long-COVID is another important factor. It is estimated that 1/3rd of cases result in long-COVID, and it can happen without hospitalization. Another important factor to consider is reducing the chance for mutations to occur.

Amy T
Amy T
9 months ago

I would like to see masking stay.

Anyone of us could be seriously ill for a non-covid reason and not be able to get the care we used to get if hospital staff are overwhelmed for any reason. Right now cases are rising.

On a personal note, my 83 year old mother has cancer. She is immunized and boosted. She gets cancer treatment every two weeks. Exposure to one covid case might mean the end of her life, or not…. But where she lives in Desantis World in FL only about half the shoppers in her local grocery stores mask up. Facing a shortening life span, she is taking her chances and has decided it is just as safe for her to cruise than live in Florida. Go figure. She just came home from a cruise out of Tampa and will go again next week after her cancer treatment. I’m worried. There are no easy answers.

Barbara Aldorisio
Barbara Aldorisio
9 months ago

I for one totally agree with You.

Myra Fournier
Myra Fournier
9 months ago

Mr. McInnis: With all due respect, I am thrilled that Bedford has a mask requirement. It’s a small price to pay for protecting ourselves, our community, and the legions of dedicated medical staff who have to treat us. I am also over 70 and know of several vaccinated and boostered people who have tested positive for COVID.
I walked into a store in Burlington the other day – everyone was maskless, both employees and shoppers. I quickly walked out.
Because of the surge in COVID, elective surgeries might be put on hold again. I hope that restriction won’t affect you (or me).
Using your logic, automobile accidents are with us forever, but would you suggest stop signs and seatbelts be a recommendation rather than a requirement?
Please rethink your position and support the Board of Health’s decision.

9 months ago

Dr Kiessling provided some very eye opening data during the board of health meeting Monday. The rate of covid cases has not changed much in a year (when there were no vaccinations in November 2020 to over 80% vaccinated in November 2021). The other board of health members are ignoring science and focusing on the wrong measures. Masks are clearly not necessary to prevent serious illness or death from this virus. A somewhat separate but related issue, I am truly disgusted by how the board of health and our society at large is forcing children to wear masks in all public settings from school to indoor sports. The science is clear that children are not at risk from serious illness or death by covid. The purpose of forcing children to wear masks is to protect the adults (who are mostly already vaccinated). It is shameful. The board of health members wouldn’t even move to revoke the mask mandate for children under 6 years old at Monday’s meeting.

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