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FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 02, 2022

Face mask rules ease and use declines, though our Covid pandemic isn't over

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What does a local health professional or government official say recently about Covid?
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Pick a quote from any pandemic article and tell how it makes you feel.
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Share two facts from other health or medical coverage.

Unmasked faces are an increasing part of the environment this spring. They're less common on streets, in stores, at colleges and even some schools. Airlines, railroads and transit systems no longer must require them, a federal judge ruled a few weeks ago, though cities still require masks on subway and bus riders in New York, Philadelphia and some other places. Uber and Lyft ride-sharing companies also dropped mask requirements.

Risks from the two-year-plus Covid pandemic are lower now that more people are vaccinated, though cases and hospitalizations – but not deaths – rose again recently in Florida and elsewhere. One newly infected American is Vice President Kamala Harris, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week. She's fully vaccinated and boosted, showed no symptoms and was isolating in her residence. "The world is still in a pandemic. There's no doubt about that," Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week. The presidential health adviser added: "We're really in a transitional phase, from a deceleration [decline] of the numbers into hopefully a more controlled phase and endemicity [flu-like status]." He and other infectious-disease experts hope that the population has enough immunity from previous infections and vaccinations to avoid another devastating surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

When community Covid-19 levels are low, the federal Centers for Disease Control says people can decide to use a mask based on "personal preference, informed by your individual level of risk." Two days after Milwaukee's school district dropped its mask mandate for students and staff members in mid-April, it revived the requirement because of rising coronavirus transmission in the Wisconsin city. "We know so much more about the virus and have so many more tools to protect ourselves" than when it began in 2020, two medical professionals write in a Washington Post guest column. "But refusing to use them and pretending that the virus is no longer a threat will only prolong the pandemic, contribute further to mass disability and death and increase existing inequities" between income levels.

Past CDC head says: "With cases going up, the idea of masks going down doesn't make a lot of sense. We're all connected—the more of us are masked up when Covid is spreading, the safer we all are." – Dr. Tom Frieden, past director at U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Doctor says: "There are many reasons we should still take precautions. … U.S. vaccination rates still trail those of other high-income countries, and only a minority of Americans eligible for boosters have received them." – Dr. Oni Blackstock of New York City

Columnist writes: "There may be places and occupations where requiring masks is still a good idea, but in general I want to declare communal victory and move on." – Gail Collins, The New York Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2022

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