We're in an awkward stage of the Covid pandemic. Things are getting better fast, yet Covid cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are still quite high in Oregon.
This is part of the Oregon Health Authority report that was emailed to me today.
Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows decreases in daily cases and increases in hospitalizations and deaths from the previous week.
-- OHA reported 4,108 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, May 10, through Sunday, May 16. That represents a 16% decrease from the previous week.
-- New COVID-19 related hospitalizations rose to 265, up from 245 last week.
-- Reported COVID-19 related deaths rose to 57, up from 31 last week — the highest weekly death toll in 10 weeks.
So it's difficult to know how seriously we still need to observe public health measures like wearing a mask indoors and physically distancing ourselves from other people.
At first the CDC and Governor Brown were vague about how, exactly, people should behave given the effectiveness of vaccines and the low probability that vaccinated people could transmit Covid if they got a breakthrough (of the vaccine) infection.
Brown now is saying that it's OK not to wear a mask indoors if everyone else has been vaccinated. Problem is, businesses don't want to ask their patrons if they're vaccinated, and many people would lie about this regardless.
Probably most businesses are going to stick with requiring masks of everybody who enters their premises. This was the case last Monday when I did my weekly grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, Fred Meyer, and LifeSource Natural Foods.
The only store where I noticed several maskless people was Fred Meyer. Also, disturbingly, one young guy at the south Salem Walgreens when I went in there on Sunday. Sure seems like a pharmacy should be strict about customers wearing masks.
Fred Meyer still had their usual "No Mask No Entry" sign by the front doors. But I was behind a customer in the checkout lane who wasn't wearing a mask and seemed to be talking with the clerk about this, though I was too far away to clearly hear their conversation.
At both Walgreens and Fred Meyer I was tempted to say something to the maskless people. However, I figured that if store employees don't want to ask them about why they aren't wearing a mask, I'm not going to do this.
The best advice I've seen comes from Bob Wachter, M.D., chair of the UCSF (University of California at San Francisco) Department of Medicine. He shared this tweet a few days ago.
Yet these conditions are easier to assess in a small gathering of friends or family rather than a business. Again, it's very unlikely that Salem businesses are going to check the vaccination status of their customers.
Legally they could do this, and I wish they would. But after the Enchanted Forest theme park attempted to make this their reopening policy, they got a bunch of nasty emails and threats, according to a Salem Reporter story.
The much-loved amusement park located south of Salem had posted on Facebook earlier this week that it would open for the season on Saturday, May 22. The post (which has since been deleted) said guests would be required to either show proof of vaccination or wear a mask while in the park.
But on Tuesday Susan Vaslev, a member of the Tofte family who’s run the park for nearly 50 years, said in a statement that the park would not be opening because of mask requirements that have been in flux since last week.
“We had hoped to do so this weekend with safety protocols consistent with the most up-to-date guidance from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Governor, and the state epidemiologist,” the statement, which was also posted to Facebook, said.
“Unfortunately, recent comments and threats have made clear that our community is not in agreement as to how we will interact in public places with regard to mask requirements for those who are vaccinated versus those who are not vaccinated.”
It's deeply disturbing that anti-vaccination/anti-mask people would threaten the staff of Enchanted Forest, one of the most enjoyable places to go in the Salem area with or without a child.
Likely most of the threats came from conservatives who view asking for proof of vaccination or requiring a mask be worn as taking away their freedom.
Which isn't true, since businesses have a perfect right to limit what their patrons can do, as evidenced by the "No shirt, no shoes, no service" sign that popped up in the 1970s to keep long-haired hippies out.
(The shirtless shoeless ones, at least.)
Look, I'm not going to accost someone who isn't wearing a mask in a store I'm shopping at. Maybe they have a good reason not to wear a mask. Maybe they forgot to put one on, something I did at the Lowe's Garden Center a few months ago.
Likewise, I don't want anyone to give me, or someone else, a bad time because we choose to wear a mask in a place where masks aren't mandatory.
When flu season hits, I'm leaning toward wearing a mask when I go shopping even if Covid cases have almost disappeared. I don't want to get Covid, and I don't want to get the flu. Putting a mask on is an easy thing to do.
If it helps keep me and others healthy, I'm going to keep on doing it.