David Alpern: Good masks still needed in health care to prevent Covid

AP FILE PHOTO/MATT ROURKE

AP FILE PHOTO/MATT ROURKE AP FILE PHOTO/MATT ROURKE

Published: 02-25-2024 12:09 AM

We are writing to emphasize the critical need for retaining mask mandates in health care facilities, specifically promoting the use of N95 and KN95 masks, in our ongoing fight against COVID-19. This is a year-round imperative for community well-being, given the substantial and lasting impacts of the virus.

Contrary to the perception of COVID-19 as a common flu or cold, the severity and lasting impacts of the virus are substantial. One in 10 individuals with COVID develop long COVID, affecting among other things the immune system, blood clotting, and brain function.

Prioritizing politics and finances over human lives is disheartening. In particular, high-risk communities are often overlooked in the absence of universal masking, facing denial of ADA accommodations despite institutional commitments to equity. Staffing issues linked to long COVID are evident, particularly among health care workers.

With 50% of transmissions from asymptomatic carriers and a 5-10% mortality rate for hospital-acquired cases, universal masking, especially with N95 masks, significantly lowers transmission rates.

Mask mandates protect not only individuals but also the health care system and the broader community. We urge community leaders to prioritize citizen well-being by enforcing mask mandates, safeguarding our community and health care system.

Dr. David Alpern

For the Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity, Florence

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