Guest opinion: Wearing masks even if vaccinated for COVID-19


Some people state that even though the delta variant is spreading, they do not need to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated. Well, the recent news is stating that lots of people are testing COVID-19 positive even though they are fully vaccinated. Such positive testing may be due to the delta variant because it is allegedly twice as severe as regular COVID-19.

Well, in any case, let's think. People were never promised that they would not become COVID-19 positive even if they got the vaccines - only that they were much less likely to test positive, get infected, become hospitalized or die from regular COVID-19 with the vaccines than without the vaccines. I would guess that with a variant that is allegedly much more transmissible and virulent than regular COVID-19, a vaccinated person is probably much more likely to test positive after being exposed to the delta variant than to regular COVID-19.

So, I think it should be understood that people can become COVID-19 positive (or infected) even with the vaccine, but the vaccine should allegedly prevent serious COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death almost all of the time - even with delta variant cases. COVID-19 positivity is not the issue, and vaccinations are not the main purpose of this letter. The purpose of this letter is to state why I am currently avidly pro-mask for indoors for the COVID-19 vaccinated people (as well as social distancing, avoiding crowds and hand hygiene both indoors and outdoors for the COVID-19 vaccinated people).

I am vaccinated, but now I still voluntarily wear my mask indoors … Why is that?

1.) Because case rates in Sumter County have gone up dramatically (320%) in the past two weeks as of July 21, 2021, per the interactive South Carolina Coronavirus Map and Case Count … and with so many new cases out there now, I know that I am much more likely to test positive without a mask than with a mask. While I refer to Sumter County specifically a great deal in this writing, much of what I state here could also apply to Clarendon and Lee counties.

2.) Because if I test positive for COVID-19 from not wearing a mask, then I know that I am probably going to have to quarantine and stay pretty much completely away from other people for several weeks until I am COVID-19 negative - whether I am very sick or not … and I do not want that. I would rather interrupt my life minimally to take a few seconds to put on and off a mask … than to majorly interrupt my life by having to quarantine for several weeks. I have too much to do and I am too busy to be interrupted like that if I can help it otherwise. Even if you are vaccinated and did not get sick that badly, would you rather put on a mask a few times a day … or risk having to quarantine for several weeks? … I know my answer.

3.) Also, because allegedly the delta variant is twice as transmissible as regular COVID-19 and as a hypothetical, asymptomatic, vaccinated person, I could certainly cut down on the unknowing possible spread of the delta variant in the future by wearing a mask indoors until new, local COVID-19 cases go down to a minimal level again. On July 20, 2021, Sumter County reported 56 new COVID-19 cases, according to the Coronavirus Map. But, from May 22, 2021, to June 23, 2021, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Sumter County never exceeded four cases. As of July 21, 2021, the seven-day average was 18. I do not know whether the delta variant was responsible for the increase, but I surmise that it was.

It should also be noted that Sumter County (and probably most of the other counties in the nation) seems to have an inverse and confusing relationship between the severity and transmissibility of the virus/variant and masks and social distancing. When Sumter County had the regular COVID-19 pandemic (from April of 2020 to March of 2021), there was an ocean of masks and social distancing, but now that Sumter County might be suffering from the exponential growth of the delta variant that is allegedly twice as transmissible and virulent as regular COVID-19, there are only a river of avid mask wearers and social distancers. It is simply not entirely logical for us to take laxer precautions with a more virulent/severe and transmissible virus - even if we are vaccinated.

In theory, asymptomatic, non-quarantined, unmasked, vaccinated people could catch and carry the delta variant to unmasked, unvaccinated people and cause serious damage to their health or cause death. Remember, we are talking about a delta variant that is allegedly twice as transmissible and twice as severe as regular COVID-19. "Is The Variant from India The Most Contagious Coronavirus Mutant on the Planet?" NPR, May 14, 2021.

If you are vaccinated, you might not be in fact saving your own life by wearing a mask, but … you might be saving others' lives in the Sumter area by wearing a mask. The math could be there; we do not know whether unmasked, vaccinated people can cause virulent harm to unmasked, unvaccinated people by spreading the delta variant - something Dr. Leana Wen pointed out on Anderson Cooper on CNN on July 21, 2021. Scientists do not know as much about the delta variant as regular COVID-19. The delta variant is much newer than regular COVID-19.

It should already be understood that unvaccinated people should wear masks indoors; otherwise, without a vaccine or a mask, they would be defenseless against the delta variant. So, does that mean both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear masks indoors until Sumter County cases go down?

When it comes to the delta variant, 1.) I do not think that we know that much about it yet, and 2.) I think people should consider getting COVID-19 vaccinated and taking all the recommended precautions taken during the regular COVID-19 pandemic … but that is just me. I am not a medical professional or scientist or warranting any of this writing, but I just think the contents of this writing need to be stated.

Personally and in my opinion, I do not think there is anything to stop the delta variant from coming to Sumter County. All we can do about it is protect ourselves and protect our neighbors the best we can until there is a cure, like possibly Aeronabs or Molnupiravir, or herd immunity or COVID-19 and its variants go away otherwise. As far as the delta variant spreading to Sumter County, the happening is logical. If something is spreading and there is nothing to stop it, then it will continue to spread until there is no place else for it to spread.