Fall of Omicron leads to fall of most mask mandates

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The mask mandates in many counties have been lifted, except for in certain locations, depending on the district or company.

Elijah Calip

      In the two months from the start of 2022, families, students, communities, and governments are still adjusting to the continuing grasp of the pandemic that started in 2020.

      It’s been almost two years since students, parents, and teachers have endured the many events that occurred throughout the pandemic, from the dramatic rise in cases to arguments and fights over vaccines and masks.  Then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detected a new variant of Covid-19 that was dominant throughout the United States on Dec. 20, 2021, classified as  Omicron.

According to the CDC, while an Omicron infection results in less severe illness, the spread of this variant is far more infectious than the Delta variant or the original COVID-19 virus, which can overwhelm the healthcare system if only a small portion of the population is infected with Omicron. It can also be spread to others even if the individual is asymptomatic or has had their vaccines.

    Furthermore, Cecilia Smith- Schoenwalder, a staff writer from U.S. News, writes that there are at least four sub-variants of Omicron, one of them being BA.2, known as the “stealth” Omicron for its more infectious characteristics and resistance to a couple of monoclonal antibody treatments; to clarify, monoclonal antibodies are made by the cloning of a white blood cell. In addition, on Feb. 16, San Francisco and other Bay Area counties lifted mask requirements for indoors. However, everyone must still wear masks in places such as hospitals, some schools, or public transit, depending on the particular district or company.

   On March 3, Riordan announced that masks for students, teachers, and staff will be “strongly recommended, but optional, inside the school building” starting March 14, but the other protocols will remain in place.

  Despite the current lifting of mask mandates, Colleen O’Rourke, STEM Program Coordinator and Science Teacher, said, “The absolute best defense right now is vaccination, mRNA vaccines like the ones from Pfizer and Moderna seem to be the best so far, but any vaccine is better than none since it helps the body train to fight coronaviruses without getting drastically sick in the process.

     She added, “Additionally, data has shown that people who have been vaccinated have done better at fighting variants than people who just had some immunity from a previous Covid infection.”

  However, there is some skepticism within the Riordan community about lifting mask mandates.

Matthew Mendoza ’22 said, “I feel it was more of a bad decision because Covid-19 rates were going down with the mask mandate, and lifting it might result in a COVID spike.””

  Regardless, even if the mask mandates have been lifted, everyone still must do their part to protect themselves and others in an effort to go back to normal, even if the current events of today may seem distressing or offer less hope.