Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
It’s been nice having an openly visible smile again for a while, but it looks like there’s little, if any, time before we need to fall back into the habit of masking up in public.
It’s a bummer. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t especially want to go back to wearing masks whenever I step indoors.
Limiting facial expressions to the eyes and eyebrows makes for awkward conversation. Covering the mouth creates small but annoying challenges in annunciation. The little straps around my ears make the hair around them dry in a way that’s much more curly than the rest of my head, which I’m sure nobody else notices but that drives me nuts when I look in the mirror.
Nonetheless, the renewed cause for concern is increasingly apparent.
On July 25, Washington County was ranked a “low transmission risk,” by the CDC. All counties bordering it were ranked at low or, at most, “moderate“ risk. All in all, not a bad outlook.
Somewhere in the last two weeks, things changed.
As of Aug. 4, Washington County is now at substantial risk. Henry County went from a moderate risk a substantial risk in the same time frame. Jefferson went from low to high, the two opposite extremes of the CDC’s transmission risk scale.
I don’t claim to be an expert. I hold a liberal arts degree and lack the requisite scientific knowledge to even pretend to know what I’m talking about.
What I do understand, however, is basic pattern recognition.
These are drastic changes, and they’re all happening at the same time. Even for moderate-risk communities, the sudden change in surrounding areas suggests that they can expect similar trends in the near future.
And that only scratches the surface. The other thing that worries me is the delta variant, a more contagious version of the COVID-19 bug. That’s a scary enough concept on it’s own, so the fact that this variant can apparently infect some fully vaccinated people really adds insult to injury.
Admittedly, the risk to those vaccinated is substantially lower than to those not vaccinated. But the fact that there’s any substantial risk to people with both shots does not sit well.
I don’t know how much masking up will help, but I do know that it will do something. And whether that’s a 1% or 100% difference in transmission, it will be a reduction in risk one way or another.
It’s hard to overstate how desperate I am to avoid a repeat of the last year and a half. We can learn from past mistakes. Please, wear a mask.