On June 11th, Orange County officials announced masks are no longer required. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, debates have broken out across the country regarding the requirement of masks, with several protests from citizens insisting their freedoms have been violated. While the requirement has been lifted, Orange County Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau insists he stands with public health experts on their stance on face coverings. The revised order strongly recommends face masks in public and was announced in an attempt to make the county’s mask rules consistent with the state’s.
On June 12th, the Orange County Health Officer had given the approval of the reopening for additional businesses, including community pools, fitness facilities, movie theaters, restaurants, and more – of course with public health modifications. With the drastic updates for the county, another 304 COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths were reported in Orange County just over the weekend.
So, without the mask requirement and reopened businesses, should we really be going back to normal?
Short answer: No.
A study by a team of researchers led by a Texas A&M University professor has found that not wearing a face mask dramatically increases a person’s chances of being infected by COVID-19. The study further suggests that wearing a face mask can be useful in preventing infected droplets from reaching uninfected people but also for uninfected people to avoid breathing in infected droplets emitted whilst talking. In short, while guidelines have loosened around the state, the virus is still alive and well – and spreading.
While some might view face coverings as a withdrawal of our freedoms as Americans, it’s become increasingly vital to understand the sheer necessity of social distancing and face masks. The pandemic at hand is not us versus face masks, but rather us versus COVID-19. The majority of us are itching to get back to “normal”, as we’re working from home waiting to get the OK to grab a drink from the bar, hang out with friends and family, or even get that much-needed haircut. With the number of cases, hospitalizations, and COVID-19 related deaths increasing, we should continue to be considerate of our community and frontline workers. While it may not seem as serious or even real to some, we should be reminded that although we may not personally experience something, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. At a time like this, it is crucial to practice caution and adhere to the recommended guidelines to avoid even more hospitalizations and deaths.