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Now They Tell Us! The Suspicious Shift on Universal Masking in Healthcare Settings
Well, well, well, look what we have here, folks! A brand-new article telling us that universal masking in healthcare settings might not be as necessary as it once was. "Now they tell us!" Right?
The article, titled "Universal Masking in Health Care Settings: A Pandemic Strategy Whose Time Has Come and Gone, For Now," is penned by some top-notch experts – Erica S. Shenoy, MD, PhD, Hilary M. Babcock, MD, MPH, and their gang of smarty-pants. But I can't help but wonder if this sudden change of heart is really just a cover-up for something we've known deep down all along: masks don't work as well as they claimed.
The context and conditions of the pandemic have changed dramatically and favorably since masking requirements in health care were initially adopted and evidence-based public health policy should also adapt in response.
The article tells us that the pandemic "context" has changed, with improved testing, population-level immunity, less virulent variants, and medical countermeasures. But come on, people, isn't this just a convenient excuse to backtrack on those masking policies now that the gig is up? It's almost as if they're saying, "Oh, the world has changed, so now we can finally admit that maybe masks weren't as great as we made them out to be." *eyeroll*
And then, they go on to discuss the downsides of universal masking in healthcare settings, like communication barriers, feelings of isolation, and negative impact on trust and empathy. But here's the thing: didn't we all know this from the get-go? I mean, it's not like we needed a PhD to realize that masks could muffle our speech and make it harder to connect with others. But now, when the "context" has changed, it's suddenly okay to admit that masks might not be all that?
The authors propose that we should manage COVID-19 like other endemic respiratory viruses, using “Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions”. The burden is still on them to prove this nonsense.
Oh, and let's not forget their suggestion to rethink other pandemic-era strategies, like asymptomatic testing and resource-intensive contact tracing. You can almost hear them saying, "Whoops, maybe we went a little overboard with all that stuff. Our bad!" It's like we're finally being allowed to question the sacred cows of the pandemic response, now that the "context" has conveniently changed.
So, here's the million-dollar question: are we really supposed to believe that all these experts just now realized that masks might not be as necessary as they claimed? Or is it possible that they knew all along, but were too afraid to admit it until the "context" gave them a way out? I'll leave that up to you, dear readers, but something tells me we're not getting the whole story here.
In any case, it seems like the era of universal masking in healthcare settings might be coming to an end. But I can't help but feel a little skeptical about this sudden change of heart. Maybe it's just me, but I think we deserve some straight talk about what really happened behind the scenes during this pandemic roller coaster ride. After all, hindsight is 20/20, and it's high time we got some honest answers.
They conclude with a kind of veiled threat it seems:
Interactions between humans and pathogens are inherently dynamic and are constantly evolving, and we have achieved major advancements in the prevention and management of SARS-CoV-2 since the pathogen was initially identified in 2019. In recognition of these achievements, the time has come to deimplement policies that are not appropriate for an endemic pathogen when the expected benefits of such policies are low. Universal masking in health care is a policy whose time has come and gone ... for now.