Removing State Mandate for Face Masks – Good Idea or Not?

Face masks soon to become optional in Texas.

Yesterday, the governor of Texas announced the removal of the state mandate for wearing face masks starting on March 10, 2021. He delegated that responsibility to business owners. It is the decision of the business owner to require face masks. They can keep the requirement or not. The state requirement setting percentages of seating capacity was also lifted. All businesses are open to 100% seating. Business owners determine their own seating capacity.

Texas Face Mask Mandate

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56255701 Michigan, Louisiana, and Mississippi recently removed their state mandates for face masks and left face mask decisions to business owners in those states. Is this realistic?

We have seen many headlines over the past year shouting about record new cases of COVID-19 daily. Yet, with new daily records, the daily death rates did not increase in most states. New cases were determined because of more testing. Scary headlines keep people in fear. The population is more likely to obey new restrictions when their life is at stake.

Yes, lives are at stake, especially for older Americans. What about the younger, working-class, those under 50 years of age?

COVID-19 Statistics

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/downloads/slides-2020-12/slides-12-20/02-COVID-Dooling.pdf COVID-19 statistics have never been well documented since the start. Many death statistics include both people dying from the virus and people having the virus when they died. Hospitalizations appear to be more accurate, yet this influenza season has seen close to zero deaths (and hospitalizations) from a yearly disease that has from ten to fifty million people infected, between 150K and 800K hospitalized, and ten to sixty million deaths each year.

The CDC reported 136 people hospitalized with seasonal influenza between October 1, 2020, and January 16, 2021, the peak of the flu season. Additionally, 292 deaths were attributed to influenza during that time. Last year, 400,000 people were hospitalized with the flu and 22,000 died from it. (https://www.today.com/health/flu-season-2020-2021-flu-activity-historic-lows-mask-wearing-t207131)

Both coronavirus and seasonal influenza share the same transmission protocols – respiratory droplets. Face masks limit the number of respiratory droplets from entering the body. Yet, face masks can nearly eliminate new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for seasonal influenza and not for coronavirus, both of which are similar sizes. How can that happen?

Let us get back to COVID-19. As of December 16, 2020, the following information applies. Between the ages of 45 and 54, 150K people died and 9% were attributed to COVID-19. Likewise, between the ages of 55-64, the numbers of deaths are 350K with 9% of the deaths from the virus. Between 65 and 74 years of age, 550K died and 10% were attributed to coronavirus. Those in the age group of 75 to 84 had 675K die with 11% caused by COVID-19. In the group of Americans over 85 years of age, 825K passed away and 10% of that total was said to be due to coronavirus.

In an average year, the top causes of death are heart disease, cancer, accidents, respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Seasonal influenza is number nine on the list of the top ten. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

An easier way to look at the statistics associated with COVID-19 is to apply it to a population group size of 100,000 people. Sixteen people between the ages of 40 and 49 died from COVID-19. Fifty-one people per 100K died from the virus between the ages of 50 and 64. In the age group of 65 to 74, there were 143 people dying from coronavirus per 100K. Three hundred sixty-six died in the age group of 75-84 and over 1,100 died if they were older than 85 years of age from COVID-19 per 100K.

How many people were diagnosed with COVID-19 per 100K population? Between 18 and 29 years of age, 5,500 people had the disease. Over 4,600 Americans between 30 and 39 years of age were infected with the virus. In the age group of 40 and 49, there was roughly 4,500 ill with the disease per 100K. Around 4,000 people per 100K were sick with coronavirus in the age group of 30-64. Almost 3,000 in the age group of 65 and 74 caught the virus. Between the ages of 75 and 84 had 3,150 infected with COVID-19 per 100K and in the group older than 85 years of age saw 5,100 people per 100K come down with coronavirus.

New cases of coronavirus and daily deaths are easily tracked. Those numbers are reported in many sources. It is difficult to find compiled numbers of hospitalizations due to COVID-19. It is easier to go to major metropolitan areas and research the hospital systems to get an accurate assessment of the strain caused by coronavirus.

Approximately 12% of people between the ages of 15 and 34 were hospitalized for COVID-19. Twenty-five percent between the ages of 35 and 54 had to be hospitalized with the virus. Almost 40% in the age group of 55 and 74 had coronavirus and were sent to a hospital for treatment. Twenty-five percent over the age 75% had to be treated in a hospital resulting from coronavirus.

These numbers have not changed much in the past several months. New daily cases of COVID-19 this week are around 60,000 per day with daily deaths between 1,500 and 1,900. The trend lines for both new cases and daily deaths are skyrocketing downward. (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/)

Face Mask Removal – How Safe?

https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-lifts-mask-mandate-opens-texas-100-percent I believe you must start some time to end pandemic restrictions. Is now the right time? I do not know. Is it right to have the government tell you how to run your business? In some cases, the business should be regulated. Would businesses have voluntarily required face masks, social distancing, and more if the state left it up to them to start? Probably not all.

We all know people who have had the disease. My son (not his family), my daughter, and her daughter but not her son had the virus. My wife and I have not. The virus has a survival rate of around 99.5% for people under 50 years of age, slightly higher than seasonal influenza in any year except this year.

Most of us know people who have died from coronavirus. Were they over the age of 50? Yes, for everyone I know. Did they have multiple health challenges? Yes, for everyone I know also. Do we know how to protect ourselves regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Yes! I believe in personal responsibility. Regardless of what the business owner decides, you can still wear your face mask to a business. That is your decision.

Conclusion

If it is our decision to protect ourselves, is it a big deal that a state delegates face mask mandates to business owners? No, I do not think so. Many of them are like most of us, they will continue to require face masks until herd immunity is reached and daily new cases, daily deaths, and hospitalizations from COVID-19 are at extremely low levels.

Are there health risks associated with going into businesses that open to 100% seating and do not require a face mask? Maybe? You have the choice to not frequent that business. No big deal! Use your common sense and go to a place that offers more protection. Order ‘to go’ and ‘delivery if you really prefer the food from that restaurant. Order ‘online’ if you must have a product.

State mandates are coming down soon all over the United States. It does not mean that you cannot choose to wear a face mask in 2022 and 2023 if you believe it will keep you healthier and seriously reduce your personal risk of catching coronavirus.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughin – RedOLaughin.com

 


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