Washtenaw County Recommends Indoor Masking Again

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“To prevent further spread of illness, we strongly recommend everyone wear masks in indoor public spaces.” That is the recommendation of a press release from the Washtenaw County Health Department, which says that because the Delta variant
is spreading so quickly among unvaccinated Americans, Washtenaw County started the month of August moving from a relatively low rate of detected community transmission of the disease to substantial, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We now advice everyone whose vaccinated or unvaccinated to mask indoor public spaces,” Adam Paborzs, a community outreach employee with the Department, said. “I think it verifies what we’ve known with the trends in the data. It’s another important reminder that there’s a lot of need to continue with public safety precautions and give people access to vaccines if they haven’t had a chance to.”

The politicization of mask wearing and vaccinations aside, one common train of thought is ‘I have already gotten Covid, so why do I need to get vaccinated?’  

Getting vaccinated drastically lowers the chances that you will be infected with the disease, and even if you do, the antibodies that the vaccine gives you will make the disease much more mild than it could be. The reason that vaccinated people are being told to mask as well is that even if they don’t get sick, a vaccinated person could still transmit the virus to someone who isn’t vaccinated, according to the CDC.

The consensus amongst medical professionals is that the longer that a large plurality of people remain unvaccinated against Covid-19, the longer the pandemic will last not just through infections, but because the longer the virus is spreading, the more it will mutate into deadlier and deadlier strains. The Delta variant that now takes up 83.4 percent of cases in the United States according to the CDC is the latest, infecting 27 people in the last 24 hours in Washtenaw County; but there is no reason to believe that it will be the last one or the deadliest.

While it is true that no one has been reported dead because of Covid in the last 24 hours,  the Delta variant is also easily the deadliest version of Covid-19 so far. Nearly 100 percent of the people hospitalized with Covid-19 are unvaccinated.

Paberzs and his colleague Nivean Farah are part of the county’s outreach program for Covid-19; going from houses of worship, to block parties, to public parks, to work places, to answer questions that people have about the vaccines and provide information on where, when and how you can get inoculated.

“We’ve really been very diverse with our timing. We’ve had clinics to six to nine, after work hours. We’ve had local clinics in local neighborhoods, on Saturday and Sunday,” Farah said. “We have some people who have had Corona so they’ve had to wait three months until their clear and then they come back to their shot.”

Chelsea and the Convocation Center at Eastern Michigan University both host major vaccination centers. The Health Department also helps with pop up clinics where people can get vaccinated, connect mobility-limited citizens with free transportation options will show up at your place of work to provide vaccines free.

Slightly more than half of adults in Michigan have gotten both doses of the vaccine, according to the State of Michigan, and nearly 64 percent have gotten at last one dose. Governor Whitmer announced last spring that it will be safe to totally reopen the state permanently once 70 percent of adults have been inoculated.

But one concern that often comes up is the speed at which the vaccines were developed. It was all hands on deck a year and a half ago when the medical community faced its greatest pandemic in a century. According

“In light of new data, we now know that people who are vaccinated can become infected and transmit the virus. We’ve always known that no vaccine is 100 percent effective. They’re an effective tool, but they’re not the only tool we have. It’s still unlikely that people who are vaccinated will become severely ill or have to be hospitalized … but it is possible,” Paberzs said.

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