Prepare like a professional football team – wear a face mask in the game against coronavirus | Columns

To hide or not to hide, that is the question. Something like that, anyway. Virginia, suddenly returning to her long-cherished right to question, has now, in her wisdom, removed mandates from schools that require masking. After much debate, even more aggravation, and even a parent making remarks about bringing guns to school (later recanted, of sorts), the masks are removed if desired.

I hope every school board in the Commonwealth will have its own revolution against this and demand masking unless there is a predominant medical issue, but obviously many are not going to rise up against the powers in Richmond. Of course, these powers will end up closing some of the purse strings, so localities need to take that into account if they decide to just say no.

In an excellent article on older Americans — most of whom are out of school — Mike Zimmerman, author of several health and nutrition books, shares some notable insights into ongoing concerns about COVID-19, the variant Omicron and their range of effects. He says many struggled to imagine the predictions two years ago that the virus could kill half a million people. It turns out the skeptics were right, but in the way they thought. It wasn’t 500,000 dead, not really close. More than 800,000 and more have perished so far.

Yet people are tired of being careful, tired of using hand sanitizer, tired of keeping social distance, and obviously above all else, crazy about being forced to wear masks indoors. Zimmerman quotes Mayo Clinic COVID-19 research director Andrew Badley, who says, in part because of a growing reluctance to enforce virus safety measures, “I think we’ll see patients with COVID- 19 severe in the years to come”. Ouch!

For people over 65 and anyone else with immunodeficiency issues or serious medical conditions, the dangers of the virus remain extremely high. Although there is no certainty of a fatal encounter, the probability of such an encounter is much higher than the possibility of winning the lottery.

What we see on all sides, of course, is the ongoing battle to convince people to get vaccinated. The numbers indicate all the benefits of getting these snaps. Unvaccinated people are six times more likely to contract the virus and 14 times more likely to die from it than those who have been vaccinated. In fact, the positive vaccine results are even better than expected. Experts initially hoped that the shots would be around 50% effective, but it turns out that those shots reach almost 90%.

As an elder who stood in line over half a century ago to get vaccinated before starting school, I don’t remember anyone objecting. None of us wanted to get smallpox or any other type of pox and there was not a parent who hoped their child would get polio. Vaccination was a small price to pay and generations later we are still reaping the rewards. Most of these once dreaded diseases, including measles, are virtually eliminated.

More recently, as many doctors and nurses can attest, due to the precautions taken last year when people suddenly got serious about distancing, vaccinations and keeping their hands clean, the annual flu epidemic has decreases. This fall, rates started to climb again because we stopped being so cautious.

An interesting chart regarding the use of masks – which some will believe and some will dispute – indicates that the N95 variety, which I believe will soon be available to anyone who wants one – is 80 to 95% in its protection value. “Regular” nylon or surgical-type liners are over 70% effective, studies show. Even the cheapest varieties are good almost 40% of the time. (Pro baseball players who hit safely 40% of the time would probably own the ball club, if you follow those kinds of numbers.)

In another sports analogy, if you will, Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, an immunologist and critical care specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, likens the vaccination process to football planning. He is quoted by Zimmerman as saying, “Your immune system is like a football team. You train all week, but you have no idea what you’ll be up against on Sunday. Even with the strongest players, you don’t know how well you’ll play against a team you’ve never seen before. A vaccine gives your football team the opponent’s playbook. So you’re gonna go out there and be more efficient.

Any football fan knows, of course, that it is difficult to play a perfect game and that some mistakes are going to be made, as the saying goes, “any Sunday”. There will be vaccinated people who will still get sick and others who wear the mask who can still catch the virus. But those chances are much longer and the results are usually less severe.

It’s still a free country – at least for now – and I hope you’ll join me on the vaccinated and masked team as we continue to play against a very powerful opponent.

Larry Hypes, a teacher at Bluefield High School, is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at [email protected]

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