Mask Up, Or Stand Down?

Following the 2021 holiday season, the anticipated COVID outbreak is in full effect.

Not only is the global pandemic reclaiming the spotlight, but the reduction in exposure to influenza from the 2021 season has created an entirely new problem. Health officials are confirming the very real possibility of contracting COVID-19 and influenza—the flu— at the same time. The result? They’re calling it Flurona.

First reported in Israel, Flurona has rapidly spread around the globe, with the first case being discovered in San Francisco just a few weeks ago. Health officials claim it’s “very rare” to contract both diseases at once, but the risk is still more feasible than ever.

Strict quarantining in spring of 2020 and mandated masking in 2021 briefly cooled down the spread of influenza throughout the United States. Now, with a severely lessened quarantine timeline and an appeal on mandatory masking, the flu is competing for a rapid infection rate alongside the coronavirus.

The recent holiday season has proven to be another factor in the rapid spread of Flurona. Travelling out of state allowed COVID-19 to spread across state lines, causing the infection rates to skyrocket over the course of November and December. With many citizens neglecting the recommendation of a negative COVID test before travel, the spread was nothing short of unavoidable.

Schools around the nation are actively experiencing the inevitable drawbacks of masking removal and virus spread. Many districts in the tri-state area have closed their doors after the holiday season, hoping to prevent a spike in cases among school-aged children.

And that’s not all.

Even more schools have been forced to pause in-person schooling, opting for virtual options after the in-school mask mandate was appealed just last month.

Adults who pushed for the removal claimed it was “improperly issued.”

Masking has consistently proven itself to be the simplest solution to one of the scariest global health crises of the century. Aside from this, rumors are destroying what progress the world has created up to this point regarding the control of the coronavirus.

With the release of the COVID-19 vaccine in spring of last year, the misconception that vaccination can stop the spread of COVID has gained traction and has caused many to ditch their masks after their shot.

Despite this, medical professionals have proven time and time again that COVID-19 can still be passed from person to person, even if they are vaccinated. The Cleveland Clinic is working to set these rumors straight, stating that “‘fully vaccinated’ doesn’t mean ‘immune to COVID-19.’”

However, officials from the Cleveland Clinic say that getting the vaccine is the best way to prevent contracting the illness to a degree requiring hospitalization.

“No vaccine offers 100% protection against illness,” stated the Cleveland Clinic. “Yet it does give you a better chance to fight off the infectious consequences.”

Vaccinated individuals are also still able to transmit COVID-19 if they are not wearing a mask.

What does this mean?

This means if you are a vaccinated individual who contracts COVID-19 and are not wearing a mask, then encounter another individual— masked or not—you’re almost guaranteed to spread the disease.

It’s as simple as that.

When does this get dangerous? Well, many individuals are unable to get vaccinated due to underlying health issues or age— those under 5 years old still have not been approved for the vaccine— making them even more vulnerable to the disease.

And that’s where masking becomes important.

A randomized trial conducted by medical professionals at Stanford and Yale has proven the wearing of masks over a person’s nose and mouth is incredibly effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19 when with others.

And it is just so simple to do.

Masking has not only become an issue of physical health in America, but of general desensitization towards COVID-19 related news. In short, COVID has only appeared to lessen in severity because quarantining and masking haven’t been as strictly enforced as they were in the past.

All around the globe, infection rates are still as apparent and severe as March of 2020; with the new Flurona variant and stripping of mask mandates from schools, it’s only getting worse. In a world where hope seems like a concept, there’s much we can do to make it a construct.

If you won’t wear a mask for yourself, wear one for others. Often, vaccinated individuals aren’t concerned about the spread of COVID or rise in hospital cases because they’re not personally affected by them.

Managing the coronavirus won’t take one person. It takes everyone’s trust, cooperation, common sense, and most importantly, compassion. Get vaccinated if you can, wear a mask, and think of others while you do.