Riley Christmas: 'Why get rid of our masks when we could practice preventative healthcare?'

How would you feel if your health insurance stopped covering preventative care entirely?

"Oh, don't worry," they'd say, "we might have effective cancer screenings available, but you won't need those because you probably don't have cancer."

This lack of long-term strategy would jeopardize your health. I think getting rid of our COVID masks entirely could have a similar effect.

Oregon's lift of the mask mandate was a relief to many, but I personally still hesitate to remove my mask in crowded spaces. I say this because there were recently new variant spikes in Europe, Oregon hospitals are still struggling, spring break travel could exacerbate an already dangerous risk, and the increasingly common at-home COVID tests are not as reliable.

According to a Politico article published on March 17, some White House officials are concerned by the spike of cases in Europe, as previous European increases in cases have led to similar increases in America. Why would the pattern suddenly change this time, if we have not made any major changes to how we handle the pandemic in that time?

Logic and past experience show that this new variant will make its way to Oregon. Why get rid of our masks when we could practice preventative healthcare?

Secondly, as of May 16, 2022, Washington County has a seven-day ICU bed occupancy rate of 86.8% due to COVID, with 94.1 out of 108.4 beds used.

The amount of strife healthcare workers have had to face due to this pandemic has been unimaginable. Before we change something that could increase the COVID transmission rate if another wave were to come by, we should focus our time and energy into making sure the hospitals can handle another wave.

If you don't want to make the change for the healthcare workers who had to put bodies on the ground outside of the hospital, do it so that said body isn't that of a loved one.

Finally, 40% of American respondents cited plans to travel for spring break this year, as opposed to the 29% from last year, only weeks after the CDC announced an end to the mask mandate.

At Pacific University in Forest Grove, for example, the school stopped requiring masks the day before spring break, making it so that hundreds of students travelled far and wide and then came back to a majority of the student body no longer wearing masks.

This kind of behavior just does not seem safe in regard to the previously stated information.

Since spring break, there has not been an alarming spike in COVID cases in Oregon. However, a lot of the testing happening nowadays is the at-home antigen tests. The reliability of these are shaky, and false negatives are common. The preferable option is to get a testing appointment, but again, a lot of people are not going to do that if they can just get an at-home test from the local Walgreens.

Protect yourself from this next spike. What you do is your own choice. However, I ask you to use discretion, and to keep wearing your masks when you are around other people.

Riley Christmas was raised in Tualatin and is a Bachelor's of Social Work student at Pacific University.

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