Tomorrow I’ll get to see how the new Covid-19 face mask policy works at the University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics. It goes into effect today. I’m going to see the dentist, as I have periodically for years, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, the idea of masked dental patients is ironic.
The rule change about masks being sort of optional is a little confusing.
It’s sort of optional because it looks like it’s not optional for unvaccinated health care employees. They still have to wear masks.
I wrote about this back in May of 2021, “Unmasked Means Fully Vaccinated?” That was back when bandanas were acceptable as face coverings.
So does being masked mean “not vaccinated?” It’s confusing because if masking is optional for patients and visitors, why are health care workers the exception? I’m not sure how anyone would enforce the policy.
If you can wear a mask just because you want to do that, how does that separate you from the unvaccinated person?
If masks are optional, then why are the entrance and exit policies not changing, including screening of patients, visitors, and staff? I didn’t see the guidance about what to do if anyone says they are symptomatic or unvaccinated and prefers not to wear a mask, other than to offer a mask (which is free!).
If it’s disrespectful to ask a patient or visitor to put on a face mask, why is it not disrespectful to require an unvaccinated health care worker to do so? There is one bullet point in the question-and-answer section about whether you can ask anyone to wear a face mask which says you can’t ask anyone, including “employee, colleague, patient, visitor, etc.” In the same section is the statement: “Whether or not to wear a mask is a personal decision that each person must make for themselves and for their own reasons.” Does that apply to getting a Covid-19 vaccine as well?
That said, I’m a staunch supporter of everyone getting a Covid-19 vaccine, if they don’t have medical or other exemptions. They don’t make you magnetic!
And I don’t think the recent Cochrane Review results on face masks really means they’re useless, which some news stories tend to convey. I think the Cochrane review does what most such reviews do, which is point out the problems with some controlled studies. And the reviews themselves may have unintended biases.
What’s the most important part of all this? Well, maybe the predicted snowstorm coming to Iowa tomorrow will prevent my dentist from getting to the clinic. And if that doesn’t work, maybe I could just exercise my right and privilege to wear my mask as a barrier to any nefarious procedures.