It is my understanding that the Va DOLI is going to make some updates regarding Covid in the workplace and there is a 30 day public comment period. I thank you for this opportunity. Schools and businesses are removing mask mandates which I feel is warranted. I am a healthcare provider in a primary care office. I have been wearing my surgical mask and using appropriate PPE for 2 years. As we see higher vaccinated rates, higher history of Covid infection and low active infection rates, I strongly feel that healthcare systems should simply return to our pre-Covid infectious disease protocols and implement standard precautions, contact precautions and airborne precautions only when needed. I am having patients cancel appointments because they are fed up with being told at our doors that they must have a mask to enter. We have found that N95 and KN95 masks help protect the individual and don’t significantly slow the spread. People are mature enough to make their own decisions on mask wearing and you can’t make someone NOT wear a mask. Mandates are only sparking controversy and retaliation. Not only that, people are confused as to how our U.S. Covid rates spiked as high as 800K cases a day when schools and businesses still implemented the mask mandates. Workforce shortages in healthcare and education still occurred despite mitigating measures of screening, testing, PPE, social distancing, hand washing and isolation. You could argue that if those measures weren’t taken, rates could have been even higher but then ask yourself what else could you have done? The answer is nothing. This virus does not care what you do. People are not fearful of death from Covid anymore. They are optimistic of therapeutic treatments and recognize majority of symptoms are mild at best. I want my patient and provider relationships to return to normal, not the new-normal. I want to see their faces if they choose to show me their’s. Coming to my office to see me without my mask on is not a Covid infection waiting to happen. It’s time to rely on our infectious disease protocols that existed before Covid, ones that recognized from the start that airborne diseases required N95 masks and respirators to mitigate exposure and infection-not cloth or surgical masks.
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