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By Supervisor Sue Frost–
It may be hard to realize this, but we are already well into 2022. I say this because I find myself reading headlines that make me feel like I am still living in late 2020.
As has been the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the rules are made up and the data does not matter.
After months of a reinstated, statewide mask mandate, Governor Newsom announced the mandate would be lifted on February 15th. Shortly after, I was elated to see the county’s public health officer would follow the state’s lead and lift our mask mandate as well, which would also apply to Citrus Heights.
The vexing thing about these decisions however, is that the originally stated thresholds for freedom from such mandates have again been irrelevant to the process.
I think it is great that the requirement of masks indoors is being lifted ahead of schedule, but it just goes to show how subjective all of the benchmarks are. At the time the county’s mask mandate was reinstated, we were told that it would be lifted when we dropped below a case rate of five per 100,000.
When the announcement came that the mask mandate would be lifted, we sat at 63.8 cases per 100,000 which is obviously significantly higher than the previous goal. Again, these guidelines and benchmarks are clearly subjective, and it makes me wonder why any of these false goal lines have continued to be identified – especially when the science we are all supposed to be following continues to change.
Case in point, Sacramento County’s most recent mask mandate was put in place to help slow the spread as cases spiked. While the mask mandate was in place, however, we saw our highest case rates of the entire pandemic. At the same time, the death rate remained far below what we saw at its peak. With numbers like those, it would seem the mask mandate achieved essentially nothing.
On March 8, 2020, Dr. Fauci made a comment on 60 Minutes, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask…” – then on April 3, 2020, he and the CDC directed us to wear a mask. As time progressed, we were told to wear two masks, that children must mask while playing sports outdoors, and that cloth masks don’t work but N95 masks do.
We were told that if we get the shot, we can take off the mask and travel, then we were told to put back the mask because it turns out the vaccine does not always prevent contracting or transmitting the disease. We’ve been told we must wear a mask indoors, but if we are sitting at a table in a restaurant, we can take the mask off. Children who are not at-risk are required to wear a mask, while adults who are at-risk can go without a mask.
We clearly have a long way to go to regaining common sense and normalcy. Lifting mask mandates only for the vaccinated did not work last time, but that is what we are doing again. As the virus changes and we watch case rates of both the vaccinated and unvaccinated rise and fall together, it is becoming more evident that the need for emergency declarations and knee-jerk mandates need to be left behind.
Instead, we need to do as we have with all other viruses that mutate too often to be eradicated – we must learn to live with the virus while minimizing its impact on society.
At this point, the only things we should be hearing about mask mandates is when we are discussing studies of how they have impacted our health, the total well-being of students, and how we can better respond to similar outbreaks in the future.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost formerly served as a Citrus Heights councilwoman and currently represents District 4, which includes Citrus Heights. She can be contacted at (916) 874-5491, or SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
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*California-specific information about COVID-19 cases and vaccines can be found at covid19.ca.gov.
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