By Alex Hernandez-Zavala
Are we reopening too early?
Things are seemingly lighting up for California, with most Northern California counties moving to the less restrictive orange tier.
Though various new strains of COVID-19 have been popping up throughout California, I believe the speed at which the state is reopening is appropriate. However, I would still like to see precautions taking place from now and beyond the June 15th reopening date.
But, it turns out that not all Californians are happy about the reopening speed.
One such case was the Fiddleheads Café in Mendocino, Northern California, which offered a 50 percent discount for those who toss their mask, according to SFGate.
This isn’t a great image for this café. The invitation for people to throw away their masks is encouraging people to toss COVID-19 restrictions, the ones we’ve been following for a year at this point, the ones that have kept COVID-19 from spreading.
This is an egregious act of disrespect to those who worked on the frontline during this pandemic.
Over 3,600 healthcare workers died over the past 12 months. Those are 3,600 lives that could’ve been spared if people wore their masks and used common sense.
I understand that business owners have the right to do promotions like these, but I have to ask, why would you? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should–––especially in a time so critical as this.
Aside from questionable business practices, California is doing well.
According to SFGate, California has the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate. We must keep following the protocols and new norms we’ve been following over the course of the year––especially amid a new innominate strain of the virus looming around California.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a double mutant strain of the virus proves worrisome for scientists and is being closely monitored by the CDC.
But what about the vaccines? Are they effective against these new strains?
Well, it’s complicated.
An article published by Medical News Today shows how limited information about vaccine efficacy on new strains is. They mention how the AstraZeneca vaccine has drastically low effectiveness against the B.1.351 strain, “…the vaccine only had an efficacy of 10.4 % against COVID-19 in people who had an infection with B.1.351.”
However, the scope of the study was limited and not generalizable as “…it is worth noting that this study was small and has not been through peer review yet.”
Still, I believe the June 15th reopening date is a reasonable date for us to return to society, as long as there are some strings attached, which I sadly know people will cut. Reopening could be a huge success, as long as people wear their masks and the state utilizes vaccine passports appropriately and sparingly.
A vaccine passport is a credential that shows you’ve gotten your COVID-19 vaccinations. This is a great way to start letting people re-enter certain places, like educational institutions. NPR reports that though it does come with its controversies––mainly that the government will keep these records and that these vaccine records will interfere with individual freedom––the United States government ensures that Americans’ privacy is protected.
Reopening the state should continue to be a systematic and gentle process––nothing like what Texas did. A report from Nature highlighted lifting the statewide mask mandate as treading on dangerous land because of the new COVID-19 variants constantly popping up, not to mention the difficulty behind tracking them.
We’ve all done wonderfully in keeping COVID-19 infection rates on its knees; let’s not throw that away.
Wear your mask.
Please, adhere to the new norms.
Alex Hernandez-Zavala is a first-year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. He was born in the Central Valley and raised in Salinas, California.
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