By Donna Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors

A Washington State advisory board made up from county health officers and health care leaders from UW Medicine, Virginia Mason, Kaiser Permanente Washington, Seattle Children’s, Providence Swedish MultiCare Health System, Franciscan Health, and the Washington state Hospital Association is now recommending we should start wearing masks again indoors. There is currently no mask mandate in Washington, although there are a few schools throughout the state that have also started recommended kids wear them again. Of course, we are still all wearing masks in the health care field and when visiting doctor, hospitals and even vet appointments. But the region is currently surging in viral respiratory illnesses including influenza, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and even COVID-19 numbers are starting to creep back up again. So many local health officials have started to highly recommend we all bring out the masks again.

As we all begin to meet for Holiday parties and shop for presents, we have enjoyed not having to mask up, especially after the last two years. However, it may be time to pull those masks back out. I have personally talked to a few people lately that are fully vaccinated and have come down with both the flu and/or COVID-19. While they were not hospitalized, they did become fairly sick for about a week and that doesn’t sound fun to me. So, I think I will start to mask up again at grocery stores and while shopping. Not everyone agrees with masks but that’s okay and I will wear one to protect myself and others.

Viruses are generally most dangerous for children under the age of five and especially children under two years of age. This also hold true for adults over the age of 65, which is the population we mainly work with. Also, people who are pregnant or have other health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease are at risk. Many of our local hospitals are at overcapacity and unfortunately, short on staff.

So, while some may argue that the threat of the COVID virus has subsided, the fact remains that wearing masks is still an important measure to take in order to protect oneself and others from the spread of viruses. These viruses are highly contagious and despite the development of vaccines, some people are still highly susceptible and wearing masks will help to reduce the spread of the virus by trapping droplets that are emitted when we talk, cough, or sneeze.

Mask wearing in my opinion is a sign of respect and responsibility towards others. By wearing a mask, we are showing that we care about the health and wellbeing of those around us. This is especially important in public settings where we may come into contact with people who are vulnerable, such as older adults and those with underlying health conditions.