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    Health Authorities Warn Mask Mandates Could Return in Fall

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    Although I have been fully vaccinated for a few months, I continue to wear my mask when I go out to prioritize community safety. Personally, staying at home doesn’t bother me much, but I have friends and family who are relieved to finally shed their masks. However, due to worsening circumstances compounding each other, the period of going maskless may be short-lived, even for those who are vaccinated.

    With the Delta variant of COVID-19 emerging as the dominant strain in the United States, states with lower vaccination rates are already experiencing new outbreaks and hospitals reaching full capacity. Countries with inadequate vaccination infrastructure have already had to reinstate curfews and mandates in response to the Delta variant’s spread. According to health officials from the WHO and the US government, a similar scenario may unfold as the weather cools in the fall.

    “I can envision that certain parts of the country may reintroduce indoor mask mandates, social distancing, and occupancy limits in the upcoming months,” stated Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law.

    “We are approaching a very risky fall, with substantial portions of the country still unvaccinated, a surging delta variant, and people discarding their masks,” he added.

    While vaccination rates are significantly high in major metropolitan areas like the west coast and northeast, several states in the southeastern and midwestern US still have rates below 30%. Health advisors highlight that these states are at the greatest risk of new COVID outbreaks and, consequently, the reimposition of mask mandates.

    “Considering pandemic fatigue, it will be challenging to persuade most Americans to adhere to advice on mask use and social distancing. When cases and hospitalizations begin to rise again, possibly not until fall or winter, it may be more feasible to convince some individuals to take precautions,” noted Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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