War against pandemic changes course

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is equally contagious whether it’s contracted by a vaccinated or unvaccinated person…This means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are equally capable of transmitting the virus to other people.

Health officials need to acknowledge that “the war has changed,” one CDC slide said. “Given higher transmissibility … universal masking is essential to reduce transmission of the Delta variant…”

…vaccinated people are eight times less likely than unvaccinated people to contract COVID-19. Vaccinated people are also 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or to die from the coronavirus…Symptomatic breakthrough infections seem to be happening among 0.0098 percent of all fully vaccinated people, according to an ABC News study of cases reported by the CDC last week.

Folks have to understand that guidance from health officials has to change when more up-to-date testing against this new variant shows different results from the earlier virus. Of course, the response has to change, too. Here in New Mexico, we’re in the top ten of states with an adequate vaccination rate. Though some vaccinated folks – including my wife and I – had stopped wearing masks, we WILL BE WEARING MASKS this morning when we go to town for our weekly grocery shopping.

Given everything included in the phrase “Santa Fe Style” – I expect virtually everyone we see shopping at Trader Joe’s will be masked.

Prepared for burial with respect


With respect: One day, photographer Jasper Doest and his daughter Fleur, 7, found a dead finch while walking. “Fleur wanted to bury her, but since I didn’t know what caused her death, I didn’t want to carry her in my bare hands,” Doest writes. “We decided to take her in the only item we carried in our pockets—a disposable face mask (carried as a backup in case we forget our reusable ones).” Back home, they put the finch on the ground, and Fleur suggested they use the mask as a blanket until they dug a hole. Doerst wanted to honor this finch. More than 400,000 people have liked his image since it was posted on our [National Geographic] Instagram page.

Surgical masks protect against colds and flu

They may look silly but a new study finds surgical masks are your best protection against a cold or the flu.

Donning a face mask — either a surgical mask or a P2/N95 respirator mask (high particulate filter mask) — boosts protection from severe respiratory illnesses such as influenza and SARS, say researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). These are not necessarily the same as the dust masks that some people use when cleaning or doing construction work.

In the study, adult mask wearers in the home were four times more likely than non-wearers to be protected against respiratory viruses, including the common cold. The findings…have global implications and are particularly relevant to efforts to combat the spread of flu pandemics and other emerging respiratory diseases such as SARS…

“In a crisis, vaccine development is likely to be delayed and drugs may be in short supply or not available at all,” MacIntyre said. “Limited supplies will be directed first to front line health workers, so masks are an important means of protection for the community, who otherwise may be last in line for vaccines and drugs…”

Wearing a mask is also effective for the raft of common cold viruses that make families sick each winter. But you have to wear it…

I’m such a hermit that I’m seriously considering wearing a mask when I go to town once a week for grocery shopping. I doubt if I have built-in resistance to anything but dog hair.