Friday 22 April 2022

Lifting Mask Mandates

Across North America, mask mandates that were in place for the last two years are being lifted even as Covid cases rise. This includes my province where we were so careful for so long. (Update: My province is Nova Scotia.)

Politicians are caving to the pressure of the we-have-to-learn-to-live-with-it approach by the most vocal of their constituents.

Masks are still RECOMMENDED by the health departments of the government, even if they are not REQUIRED. Even politicians who supported mask mandates all along are now changing their tune and saying it's up to individuals to "do the right thing" and use the tools (including masking) that we know help in reducing the spread of Covid.

But there are too many people who aren't doing "the right thing". They couldn't wait to take off their masks and no amount of appealing to their better nature will make them put those instruments of oppression (haha) back on.

One person wearing a good mask = some protection.

But everyone wearing masks = better protection.

Your protection is automatically less now if the people around you are not also wearing one.

There are still just as many vulnerable people out there. And they are the ones who are effectively being punished now. When they go shopping for groceries, medications, and other necessities, their environment is no longer as safe as when everyone was required to mask up. The vulnerable include not just the very elderly and the immuno-compromised but anyone with a chronic health condition and also those of us who are just barely out of middle age.

This decision has really gotten my hackles up.

Infectious diseases experts are worried about the lifting of mask mandates. These are the people who have the training and experience to make the best judgement. They are the people who saw the potential for a pandemic years ago but were only half-listened to by elected officials, because what was seen as a fairly remote possibility was not a sexy issue for political campaigning; therefore there was no way to fund precautionary measures.

The experts say we just don't have enough data yet to suddenly drop restrictions. They favour a more gradual approach and are no longer even talking about "herd immunity". This virus is not behaving like others we have seen. Vaccines and boosters aren't giving lasting immunity. Even catching the virus is not giving lasting immunity. Hospitalizations and deaths are still continuing at too high a rate among the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

As far as I can see, the only way around the increased risk caused by the dropping of mask mandates is to wear the best mask you can find.

Cloth masks are now considered by experts as not very effective against the much more contagious omicron BA.2 variant currently circulating.

Medical masks are somewhat better, especially if you alter them using the "knot and tuck" method ...


... or if you wear two masks together (either a well-fitting cloth mask over a medical mask, or two medical masks - the one closest to your face using the knot & tuck method and the one on top worn the regular way, with the elastics knotted if necessary to give a closer fit).

The best single masks are the KF94 (Korean), N95, N99, and KN95 (Chinese) masks, according to experts. But not everyone can afford them, nor does everyone have access to them. Some of them (such as the ones I bought a load of) are also more difficult to put on and therefore are not as good a choice when you will be taking your mask off and putting it back on without having access to handwashing or hand sanitizer, because you could contaminate the inside of the mask with your hands.

Anyhow, all the griping in the world will not change what the politicians have decided on this issue. They are going to do what all the other politicians are doing. They are all going to protect themselves. And I'm not talking about masks in that sentence.

When things can't change, all that's left is the pleasure of complaining. And so I do.

So let us mitigate the complaining with a few funnies. They help a little, plus they're free, non-addictive, non-alcoholic, and non-fattening, although maybe a little addictive 😀 (Thank you for that, EC). Enjoy.

Wait just a sec ... first we must have a meme that fits the post:


And another.

Okay, NOW we can proceed.

All right, I confess - this is me. I have bought pinecones in a store. I don't know anybody with a pine tree that I can beg to give me their pinecones.

Have a good week :)


Anonymous said...

Masking remains compulsory here in medical settings, public transport and taxis. Public transport compliance is 1/2 to 2/3. Mask rules for retail workers were dropped yesterday. While I would like to see a lot more masking, there comes a time such as it had with retail workers when compliance is so low and there isn't enforcement, then it is pointless keeping the rules. Some seem able to ignore the current number of Covid deaths.

A good selection of amusements. I'd never thought of the door push and pull, but yes, how silly. Door designers could do much better. The pull side needs a handle, the push side just a plate. It is double doors where one side is locked that get me every time.

messymimi said...

It's a sad state of affairs.

Thank you for the laughs, we all need them.

Elephant's Child said...

The laughter IS addictive. And it is an addiction I am not going to attempt to break.
Not only our our masks largely disappearing so are the quarantine requirements. Which as a vulnerable person, living with another vulnerable person scares me witless. Some people live with Covid 19, and others die with it.
Hiss and spit.

Bonnie said...

I couldn't agree with you more! I'm so tired of the constant bickering about masks. There is very little common sense anymore.

I love the funnies and that dog holding the little boy is so sweet!

dinthebeast said...

A couple of months ago they started giving out 3 free 3M N95 masks to anyone who asked for them at the grocery store and I still have a few left. I wear them every time I go to town. Every time. I started with a bandanna back when masks weren't commonly available, switched to the paper ones when they first showed up at CVS, and then for a while I wore a paper one underneath a cloth one that the Chicken sent me.
My gripe with that is that my ears don't hold two loops very well and I had to keep adjusting them to keep them from falling off.
The N95s have two rubber straps that go all the way around my head and stay on just fine.
I won't have to wear mine very long tomorrow when I go to town because Briana is out of town and I had to order my groceries online, meaning they will bring them to the car when we drive up.
Briana has a couple of big boxes of pinecones that she is planning on using to make wreaths. She has been gathering willow sticks and weaving them into circles for this purpose. I'm having trouble picturing the pinecones on there, but she has ideas for that. I keep reminding her of the wheelbarrow we filled with pinecones from our friend Trevor's yard in Truckee just to get them off of the lawn...

-Doug in Sugar Pine

River said...

I haven't paid much attention to what's happening with masks because I know I will still wear them in supermarkets, on public transport and other places where there will be too many people.
I like that knot and tuck method, I'll try that.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I am part of the ever dwindling mask wearers. I have to wear them at my volunteer job because we deal with many vulnerable people. I also wear them in any indoor place I go, although I am not out and about as much as I used to be. I can’t get sick because I am a caretaker and responsible for a loved one’s health. I have been insulted and mocked for wearing one, but I know that I am doing the right thing and that is what matters.

It was so nice to visit your blog again and enjoy your funnies.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Thanks for the laughs. Mask mandates were lifted here two months ago, and the numbers keeps on falling. As of today we have 700 in hospital with Corona (not necessarily because of (230 being in a psychiatric ward)), of these 15 in ICU, and of these again 1 (one) on a vent. Pop. app. 6 millions. I hope it goes the same way for you!

Marie Smith said...

I will be wearing a mask long after the mandate is lifted here which is supposed to be this coming week.

Martha said...

My husband and I were just talking about masks yesterday; that it wouldn't have been a big deal to leave them in place. In Ontario, all mandates were lifted the third week of March (not sure about hospitals and elderly residences). I'm not surprised since it's a provincial election year. It's all about politics now. In any case, people were starting to do whatever they want and many were not respecting the rules, anyways. My heart goes out to all the vulnerable individuals. I'm not sure where we're headed with this virus but it's not going away simply because we're tired of it. Thanks for the funny stuff! We really need it.

Boud said...

I love the alligator reunion! And there's such confusion and defiance and general boneheadedness around masking. It's pretty scary for people at risk.

Jackie McGuinness said...

I plan to continue to wear my mask. Two family members came down with covid this week. I must say most in our building continue to wear them. Public transit "requires" masks but it is not enforced and is about 50/50.

Mike said...

People are ditching the masks around here. Last week it was about 50/50 at the grocery store. Last time it was about 10%.
N95 masks loop behind your head. KN95 loop around your ears.

jenny_o said...

Andrew: Yes, the double doors with one locked get me, too.
I should have mentioned that masks are still required here for high risk settings (health care, long term care, adult residential care, and jails, and still required until the end of May for schools/school buses. Individual businesses are allowed to require masks if they wish, and some do but most don't. I think compliance was quite good in our province during the mandate. It was good in my town, and my son who lives in a larger centre everyone was masked while the mandate was on, but once masking was a recommendation, not a requirement, it took only a few days for a large percentage to stop wearing them. You're right that if there is little or no enforcement many people won't comply.

Mimi: I worry about all those at higher risk. Which includes my mother and probably me, but also a lot of other people.

EC: You're right about memes being addictive; I'm not sure why I ever stuck that in there, LOL. Fixed it!
I'm sorry to hear that your isolating requirements are also being dropped. That's another layer of protection that should have been kept, at least until the world knows more about the BA.2 variant. Hiss and spit indeed.

Bonnie: I just keep thinking that if the politicians thought everyone would "do the right thing", they wouldn't have bothered to mandate masks in the first place. Many people are no more likely to wear masks now for the sake of others than they were in the beginning; the only reason they did was because it was the law and they could get fined. I just wish governments had done the lifting of requirements more gradually. Our health care facilities are now over their limit and surgeries are limited to emergency only.

jenny_o said...

Doug: I'm glad the N95 masks with two elastics around the head work better for you. I'm the opposite - the elastics slide down my hair so I prefer ear loops. Grocery pickup is a good alternative to going in a store. Yet, I know people who are so desperate to get out of the house they continue to go grocery shopping in person (my mom, for instance!).
Those pine cones will look good on Briana's wreaths, just wait and see :D

River: Me, too. With the best mask I can find!

Arleen: It's so good to hear from you. I hope you are well. It is concerning to hear that you are a caregiver now. I wish you strength; it's a stressful role.
I hear you on the masks - I can't get sick either because I take care of my mom in some ways, and I don't want her to get sick either, at her age. So we are both still wearing masks, and will continue to do so.

Charlotte: I know that Denmark was a leader in dropping mandates. It's good that the hospitals are not full now, but I wonder how many people died? After the disease sweeps through a population, the number of hospitalizations and deaths are bound to drop because all the people who are most vulnerable have succumbed to it. People say we need to accept some deaths as inevitable, like we used to accept deaths from annual influenza. But maybe we should not have been so accepting about those deaths, either. I don't know what the answer is.

Marie: Good to hear. I will be wearing one, too.

Martha: Yes, that's the thing that bothers me - it wouldn't have been that hard to keep mask mandates in place a while longer, so more data could be collected on this variant. But what's done is done.

Boud: It IS scary - yes! It was bad enough before, but now anybody can walk up beside you at the grocery store and park themselves in your personal space without a mask, and you (the vulnerable person) must move, even though you were there first. Or at the checkout, people can crowd you in the lineup. Aargh.
I'm with you on the alligator meme - I thought that one was the best today :)

Jackie: I hope you can avoid covid by continuing to wear a mask. It's scary when everyone around us seems to be sick. I'll keep wearing my mask too.

Mike: Compliance is definitely a factor in the decision to drop masking requirements in some places. Is the elastic placement a technical difference between the masks? lol

Diane Henders said...

Very few people are wearing masks around here, either. It's one of those "don't get me started" subjects, so I'm not going start. BUT the alligators made me laugh and laugh! Thanks for that!

Joanne Noragon said...

Masks are still a requirement in medical settings, at least in my state. I still wear it everywhere.

Cherie said...

Tony and I were just two of a handful wearing masks at our local A and E the other day. Until a very brisk no nonsense nurse came in and handed everyone else a mask and insisted that they put them on. 'Covid cases are rising and you need to wear a mask in here' was what she said. No one dared to argue with her though a few rolled their eyes.

DB Stewart said...

My wife & I still wear masks, and feel your frustration. As the saying goes, "government is a waste of taxpayer's money," especially in Alberta where we have the worst government in the history of our province, whereby policy is essentially dictated by a group even the premier calls "lunatics." Sigh.

Mike said...

The behind the head straps make for a little better seal around the face. KN95 is actually a 94% mask.

Miss Kim said...

I'm so happy to have stumbled upon your blog! I've just started one myself and I am also in Nova Scotia. I'm generally a very kindhearted person but with the removal of masks I find myself wanting to shove my grocery cart into unmasked people! (I haven't actually- so far). But honestly, I want to question every single one of them as to why they are willing to risk the health/lives of people they possibly love. *Sigh* We double mask and so far we've been illness free.

37paddington said...

Wow, that meme about the forest and the axe stopped me cold. Such a brilliant summation of where we find ourselves.

jenny_o said...

Diane: There seem to be SO MANY "don't get me started" subjects lately for me too. My tongue is nearly bitten in half :) I love the alligator meme also!

Joanne: Same here (medical settings). I was just out to the grocery store and - maybe it was the time of day - it looked like there were more masks than before. Of course, they were all older people; that might be why.

Cherie: We need more people like that nurse to be in charge everywhere!

DBS: I have a lunatic cousin in Alberta ...

Mike: I was joking, sorry. Yes, the behind-the-head straps are supposed to provide a better fit. I can't wear them because the elastic slides down my (straight) hair. Are you sure about the KN95 masks? I read that KN95 is the Chinese model comparable to the U.S.'s N95. Then there is the KF94, which is the Korean model. Also, because of your comment, I re-read that sentence in my post and discovered I'd listed N95 twice, so I fixed it - thanks!

Miss Kim: Welcome to a fellow Bluenoser! Yes, it's hard to remain kind when there is such disregard by others on such a critical matter. I hope you continue to avoid the virus.

37p: Being a proverb, it makes me wonder how old it is, and therefore if what we are seeing is not all that new ... How depressing is that ...

Susan said...

I'm on the board of a non profit. Meeting with a group of members I noticed the only ones wearing masks, including me, were all retired nurses. I think it says something about being well informed and understanding outcomes.
Our late cat had the same expression as the one in I'm not with him. Brought back some fond memories.

Mr. Shife said...

Frank the alligator meme made me chuckle out loud, jenny_o.
I think the way things our with mask requirements says a lot about our society.
We don't care much about our fellow man. Heck a lot of folks don't even care about their own family.
Take care and stay safe.

jenny_o said...

Susan: Re only the nurses masking - yes, you're so right. We should all be following what our medical experts have known for a long time and for a variety of contagious diseases!
That cat's face is priceless. I'm glad you have good memories of your guy.

Mr. Shife: It's always a good day when you can make someone chuckle :D
As for the rest of what you said, I can only nod in agreement.

baili said...

Did politicians mention why they are lifting the restriction at the first place?
I mean it's totally beyond my comprehension that authorities are asking people to take off their masks. If they cannot ask people to stay precarious they should not ask them to be careless at least. It seems they are considering masking some kind of threat
No such thing here .it is upto people whether they wear it or not though public places and buildings still demanding masks.
Thank you for the video. I wear mask during cleaning and this will help me to make the use of mask more precise. So enjoyed the funnies.i have become habitual for smiles at the end of your pists :)
Hugs and blessings

jenny_o said...

baili: Politicians are lifting the masking requirement because there are many outspoken people and groups (such as bar owners, tourism places, and others) who don't want to wear masks anymore or don't want their customers to be inconvenienced by masks anymore. The latest variant of the virus appears to be somewhat less deadly than the original strains, and politicians see the health care system is under less strain now, so in order to be popular they are no longer making the population mask if they don't want to. They are not actually asking people to stop, they are just allowing people to choose. But too many people see it as the pandemic being "over" and are choosing to stop masking. I am disappointed in our government's approach and think they should be more cautious in ending the requirement to mask. We are only required to wear them now in health care settings.
I'm glad you enjoy the funnies! Hugs to you too!

baili said...

thank for telling what is going on and who are these people who are demanding masking off .
it seems that once again capitalist won eventually sadly .
most problems of this world is that we are becoming selfish day by day and being self centered we think only about our personal advantages .people of power are the master of this show and public has to bear their negligence anyway .
i think of revolution that can change the whole view of this scenario someday and i think it will come later are more later may be but surely

jenny_o said...

baili: The love of power is a terrible problem in this world, isn't it? I am more pessimistic than you are; I don't think mankind as a whole will ever overcome this tendency, even though there are many individual people who do not have it.