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Health Officials Warn of Possible Return to Mask Mandates in the Fall

Credit: Unsplash

Despite being fully vaccinated for some time, I continue to wear my mask in public to prioritize community safety. While it’s not a major inconvenience for me as I prefer staying at home, I understand that many people are relieved to go without masks. However, due to a combination of worsening factors, there is a growing possibility that this mask-free period might be short-lived, even for those who are vaccinated.

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 emerging as the predominant strain in the United States, states with lower vaccination rates are witnessing new outbreaks and hospitals reaching full capacity. Several countries with inadequate vaccination coverage have already reinstated curfews and mandates due to the Delta variant’s rapid spread. Health experts from the WHO and the US government are warning that similar measures might be necessary as the fall approaches.

“There is a possibility of reintroducing indoor mask mandates, social distancing, and occupancy restrictions in certain regions of the country in the near future,” stated Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law.

“We are heading towards a perilous fall with a significant portion of the population still unvaccinated, a surge in the delta variant, and people discarding their masks,” he added.

While metropolitan areas like the west coast and northeast boast high vaccination rates, states in the southeastern and midwestern US still have vaccination rates below 30%. Health advisors warn that these states are most susceptible to fresh COVID-19 outbreaks and, consequently, the reinstatement of mask mandates.

“Due to pandemic fatigue, it may be challenging to get most Americans to adhere to mask usage and social distancing guidelines. However, as cases and hospitalizations rise again, possibly in the fall or winter, persuading people to be cautious may become easier,” noted Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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