Yesterday I read a very good guest article on Al.com written by Dr. Peter Pappas, who is the William E. Dismukes Professor of Medicine in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Infectious Diseases. Pappas wrote a letter, as convincing as any other I’ve read, about how K-12 schools ought to require universal masking.
Early on in his letter he made the statement that his message was not politically motivated. Even after all this time I can’t figure out why some people think that masks are a political thing. Could doctors dealing with the fact that 55% of Alabama’s ICU occupants have COVID possibly be concerned with politics right now? What would they have to gain or lose by having students and teachers wear masks? I roll my eyes as I ask sarcastically, are all of these overworked doctors and nurses interested in controlling us for some reason?
In the letter, Pappas says, “Let me state from the outset that among infectious disease practitioners and public health professionals, there is no mask controversy. Masks work; not 100%, but they significantly decrease transmission of respiratory transmitted agents such as tuberculosis, influenza virus and COVID-19.”
So there’s that. An expert in infectious disease who has 40 years of experience telling us masks work. Come to think of it, I’ve only ever heard one medical professional say they don’t.
Pappas asks why people are questioning the proven use of masking when it comes to K-12 schools.
“It can’t be because children don’t get COVID-19, as children make up a substantial portion of the epidemic today,” he says.
So there’s that.
When I look at the Alabama Department of Public Health school dashboard, where you can check and see how man COVID numbers are reported for your school system in a week, it says that Jackson County reported 105 cases this week (there were no numbers for Scottsboro City Schools). How many will that 105 multiply into, because we know that the delta variant of COVID is highly contagious. Could some of them have been prevented through masking and social distancing?
These are questions I hope school leaders and school board members are asking themselves.
COVID numbers are not waning. More people are getting vaccinated and hopefully that will soon help. But it isn’t going to help today, and it isn’t going to help tomorrow, or by the end of the week.
In that time how many people inside school buildings will contract COVID. How many will spread it throughout their homes and then out into the community?
Sometimes I accuse myself of being a dramatic alarmist. I think that I must be overreacting, but then I read the news and I don’t understand why COVID-19 isn’t being treated like any other tragedy.
It is what it is I guess.
Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.