Per the facts known about the delta variant, vaccine coverage as of today, different vaccine efficacy rates and prevention strategies associated with the virus, I sternly believe that we should wear masks even after state-wide vaccination rates increase in the United States. Several states have already implemented this strategy. 

Data from the American Society of Microbiology indicates that the “delta variant is 40%-60% more transmissible than the previous strains of the virus and almost twice as transmissible as the original Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2.” 

MSU President Waded Cruzado announced on Thursday, Aug. 26, in an email to students that face masks will once again be required in indoor instructional spaces.

Should we require masks again at MSU? Research described in a Los Angeles Times opinion editorial by authors Peter K. Enns and Jake Rothschild illustrates “why the answer is YES in many aspects: The unvaccinated are least likely to wear masks.”

Face masks can help slow the spread of the virus and mandatory mask mandates can be removed if everyone who is eligible gets vaccinated. According to the Mayo Clinic’s U.S. COVID-19 vaccine tracker, “nearly half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, and almost 70% of adults (and nearly 90% of those 65 and up) have received at least one dose.” Authorities must continue to address the vaccine misinformation and utilize strategies in building confidence towards COVID-19 vaccines . AP news reported that France recently introduced new vaccination requirements and COVID-19 vaccination passes and, despite some controversy, a rush for vaccines ensued.

There is no way to sugarcoat the harsh truth: people are going to die. When death is knocking on the door, concerns about legal battles over a mask mandate are irrelevant.

It sounds obvious: take care of your health; it could save your life.

As Enns and Rothschild state in their article “Masks not only help prevent those infected from spreading the virus, they also offer protection to those wearing the mask.” As per MSU Office of Planning and Analysis there was an enrollment of 16,249 students for the Fall of 2020 and a multilayered approach of both vaccination and updating mask guidance is required for the university in order to safely resume in-person teaching, learning and working this semester, and to protect these students, faculty and staff.

Our country began with a willingness to make personal sacrifices for the collective good. It’s depicted in the closing line of the Declaration of Independence: “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Almost two centuries later, John F. Kennedy posed his famous challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” The United States became great because every generation before us knew that liberty and duty go hand in hand.

George Washington emphasized, “every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.”

When we wear a mask and get the vaccine, we are serving our country and our fellow citizens.

Americans have agreed to vaccinations in order to eradicate diseases since George Washington mandated the smallpox inoculation for his troops. The ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1905 supported vaccine mandates by saying, “Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

Until federal vaccination goals are achieved and vaccination rates are boosted, implementing policies like the federal rule that everyone wear masks at transportation conveyances used for international, interstate or intrastate transportation should be mandatory. According to The Washington Post, as of Aug. 26, 2021, more than 633,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States and more than 38,404,000 cases have been reported. In order to prevent more infections, MSU should continue with the ongoing mask mandate and implement a vaccination mandate for all students and faculty.

Apart from mask mandates the best way to be protected against COVID-19 and emerging variants is to complete your vaccination series. 

We’re all going through this together. The virus threatens everyone.