Many are enjoying the relaxation of mask requirements, but for others it signals an ominous new phase in the pandemic. Shannon Rosa has this Perspective.
My adult autistic son cannot tolerate wearing a facemask, so we have kept him out of public indoor spaces for most of the pandemic. You might think I welcome the current decline in indoor facemask restrictions.
But I don’t, because I saw how premature mask mandate drops led to the resurgence of COVID-19 in delta and omicron forms, and then spikes in COVID hospitalizations and deaths. Now scientists are worrying that the emerging BA.2 subvariant may be the most communicable COVID form yet.
And my primary concern is that people with intellectual disabilities, like my son, have died from COVID at a much higher rate than other people — in part because it’s harder for medical workers to accommodate their specific needs during crises. Also, the pandemic illustrated clearly that doctors openly or subconsciously prioritize non-disabled patients for respirators and other life-saving treatments.
When we wear our facemasks, we do more than protect ourselves. As with vaccines, wearing a facemask also keeps COVID from spreading to other people. So, I would prefer that we keep our facemasks on, with exceptions for the tiny percentage of disabled people, like my vulnerable son, who truly can’t wear them.