Masks: Why We Should Mask
By a member of the St. Mark’s Regathering Advisory Group
St. Mark’s community has, along with other parishes in the Washington Diocese, weathered and journeyed through one of the worst pandemics that the world has seen in a century. We now have amazing and, according to the head of NIH, almost miraculous vaccines of high efficacy. While these are major tools in helping us as individuals, and most importantly as a community, it is still only part of the story.
“…masking is a critical public health tool along with distancing and vaccination.”
Efficacious vs Effective
First, the vaccines are highly efficacious but not 100% effective. While the breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated persons are extremely low, the current data indicate that not only can vaccinated persons be infected, but they can also be infectious. That is, vaccinated people who have breakthroughs can carry and shed the virus even if they don’t experience symptoms of their own.
Therefore, masking is a critical public health tool along with distancing and vaccination.
Mutation and the Delta Variant
The virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, SARS-COV-2, continues to mutate as do all viruses, and there are currently several variants of concern (VOCs). The latest one, the Delta variant, produces twice the viral load in people who are infected than the wild (original) version of the virus. Therefore, CDC has updated its recommendation on mask-wearing in light of this variant.
The St. Mark’s Approach to Safe Gathering
St. Mark’s has throughout this pandemic taken a conservative approach continuing masking indoors, physical distancing, and encouraging getting a vaccine when available.
As with all the public health measures that we have been enforcing, the goal is to keep the community, including the most vulnerable members of our community, safe. Mask-wearing is an important part of those measures, to protect those who are immuno-compromised (even when vaccinated), and the children of our community who are too young to get vaccinated.
Why Masks Matter
Proper wearing of the mask is essential for its effectiveness, and that means wearing it over the nose and mouth, which protects anyone from the water droplets coming from the mouth of the mask wearer and protects them from any water droplets from anyone else. This works best when all concerned are wearing masks and protecting themselves and everyone else.
This means throughout the entire service, including while singing.
An Act of Love and Care
We are asking the community to continue walking with us in following these measures, as an act of protecting each and every one of us. The science supports these measures, and it is an act of love, just as when we had the building closed during those times during the pandemic last year. It is saying that we care about each other.