One might have thought that a year and a half of pandemic theater would be enough for everyone, but apparently Carol Gloor disagrees (“'Face reality', masks inside public places,” Aug. 18-19 Mirror-Democrat/Times-Journal). If facemasks were likely to end the pandemic, she might have a point.
Recognizing that the corona virus is likely to become endemic rather than simply disappearing, what are the options? Without doubt, the vaccine is the most effective tool in the toolbox. While the vaccine is not 100% for reasons beyond the scope of this letter, it is highly effective in preventing hospitalization or death.
The infections and deaths due to Covid variants that concern Ms. Gloor are overwhelmingly occurring in the unvaccinated population. Given that the vaccine has been freely available as well as free, those who are not immunized have chosen to take that risk. In the words of the late Yogi Berra, "If they don't want to come out to the ball park, no one is stopping them."
The second most effective tactic is to reduce the risk of contact with the virus by "social distancing." Those not immunized and those with impaired immune systems should avoid close proximity with large groups of people in confined spaces. The unmasked folks in Timber Lake Playhouse were probably vaccinated, or if not, presumably understood the risks and were willing to take them.
Medical grade masks are worn by surgeons to prevent them from infecting the patient, not to prevent infection of the surgeons. In cases where that is likely, surgeons would probably be wearing face shields and respirators rather than simple face masks. Medical grade masks properly fitted are different animals than the loose, ill-fitting and casually worn masks one typically sees. The latter represent pandemic theater rather than effective prevention.
Rather than indulge the mask scolds, a more effective tactic would be to protect the immunologically impaired with effective social distancing and proper masking rather than insisting that everyone "just do it" with masks of uncertain effectiveness.