Original photo by Ethan Cook

Should Vermonters be required to wear masks?

By Ethan Cook

After the brief low of Covid cases over the summer, many people still haven’t gotten their masks back on. Covid cases in Vermont have actually increased since the so-called ‘peak’ of the pandemic, yet many people still aren’t covering their faces while inside.

This is because the vaccine has been thought of as preventative, when it really serves mostly as a reduction of symptoms. According to an article on NBC5 from October 12th, “just over 3,600 fully vaccinated Vermonters have contracted the virus after being fully vaccinated, also known as a ‘breakthrough’ case of COVID-19 as of Oct. 12. That represents roughly 0.8% of fully vaccinated residents.” This data tells us that vaccinations greatly reduce the severity of the virus, but do less of a good job at preventing it altogether. That is a job for masks and other precautions. 

The same article also helps by explaining when to wear masks. “The CDC’s updated mask guidance says fully vaccinated Americans do not need to wear masks or physically distance indoors or outdoors, with some exceptions. People should wear masks in crowded indoor locations like airplanes, buses, hospitals and prisons.” Vermont laws include schools as well.

However, masking is still being pushed back against by some individuals. Masks have been a crucial part of most Americans’ lives for the past year. Laws have been constantly changing in regard to whether or not masks are a necessity, and Vermont is no exception. The Vermont government has put in place regulations requiring masks in schools, and all members of the executive branch, which includes politicians, police officers, and other government workers, were to get vaccinated.

 At the end of August 2021, Twinfield Union school had already closed classrooms due to cases of Covid, and prisons in Vermont have started requiring masks again after over 20 people were diagnosed. Northern Vermont University decided it was best to switch back to online schooling when eight students got Covid in a week. Sylvia Plumb, director of marketing and communications, stated that, “with cases rising in Vermont and throughout the United States, this is not unexpected. This underscores how critically important it is for our community to be vaccinated, masked up properly while inside, and testing as appropriate.” 

Governor Scott thinks that the problem is that people are not getting vaccinated. “Vaccines are still changing the game. We need people to keep stepping up to get their shot and to get the booster when the time comes.” Covid-19 statistics showed an upcoming decrease in early September, but through those weeks, there had been increases of over 20 percent.  On September 23rd, we had a day in which 289 new cases were diagnosed in Vermont. The situation has gotten much worse since June, but taking as many precautions as possible will help to bring us back to normal.