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OPINION: States shouldn’t have opened too soon

By Amanda Schmelder

Recently states have started opening up fully, such as lifting masks mandates in public places and opening up businesses at full capacity. Some states started lifting restrictions, like opening up restaurants, last summer when the risk of infection was very high across the U.S. 

Lifting restrictions early won’t help; it will just cause communities to go back to lockdowns and very strict guidelines. Following guidelines, like wearing masks in public places, has many benefits.

Masks are a barrier that keeps respiratory particles from spreading. Respiratory particles are the main way COVID-19 spreads. Masks not only keep the wearer safe but also people around them safe. Protecting other people from infection around is just as important, especially for people with health conditions that may have little immunity from getting infected.

Continuing to follow guidelines and mandates like masks and social distancing is still important even after you get the vaccine and become immune. The Illinois Department of Health states that “While the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, it is not 100% effective. Until the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, people who receive the vaccine need to continue following Illinois Department of Public Health guidance.” 

Everybody won’t be all vaccinated at the same time. Some people can’t get vaccinated because of medical issues. Continuing to wear a mask and practice social distancing when in public places is important to protect other people that don’t have immunity. 

Following guidelines and lockdowns will also help cases fall. The CDC reported that several studies, done in several U.S. cities, showed how lockdowns and guidelines affected the number of cases: “Each analysis demonstrated that, following directives from organizational and political leadership for universal masking, new infections fell significantly.” 

Some states started opening up and lifting their mandates, while cases and infection rates were still high. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, criticized these states, saying that it was too soon to end masks mandates and open up fully. Dr. Fauci explained his opinion in an email to the New York Times about states opening up last summer. 

“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”

Some people think that the U.S. and the world have been in lockdown long enough. But lockdowns and guidelines will help prevent future outbreaks, so future lockdowns won’t happen so frequently. Opening up things slowly and being cautious is also important. 

It is important for people to do what’s best for the community. That means not only protecting themselves but also the people around them. That means politicians and communities should keep following guidelines until it is truly safe for the U.S. to go back to normal.

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