SAN ANTONIO – As COVID-19 surges amid a continuous mask mandate feud, parents and others are sharing why they support or don’t support masks in area schools.
School districts across San Antonio and surrounding counties have had meetings over mask mandates in recent weeks. During public comment, many of those against it cite Pro-Choice. Others provide their own data and research.
According to local health professionals, those opposing the mask mandates have three main arguments: masks aren’t very effective, we should build natural immunity and there is low risk to kids.
Dr. Ruth Berggren, with the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, and Dr. Jason Bowling, the director of hospital epidemiology at University Health, say these claims are misleading.
“Of course they’re not 100% effective. You’re going to do two things to maximize your safety in that car -- you’re going to wear a seatbelt and you’re going to mind the speed limit. And you know full well that doing both of those things doesn’t hand you a guarantee that you won’t get in an accident or that you won’t be harmed or that you won’t get killed. But, you know, those things work because they improve your odds and they improve your safety. Well, we have things that are like seatbelts and observing speed limits, and it’s wearing that mask and it’s getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Berggren.
In terms of natural immunity, Dr. Bowling said antibodies from the previous strain of COVID-19 simply isn’t enough to offer protection against the delta variant.
“What we’ve learned over the last few months is that people who have had prior infection with COVID-19 and have developed natural immunity and antibodies from natural infection, unfortunately, are not protected against this new delta variant,” said Dr. Bowling.
“People who had been just recovered from COVID relying on that natural immunity were twice as likely to get COVID again than fully vaccinated people,” added Dr. Berggren.
And, with kids under the age of 12 unable to get vaccinated, Dr. Bowling said this delta strain is causing serious illness and some hospitalizations among the younger population.
“While overall kids have less severe disease than adults, if you have enough kids get sick, you’re still going to have a percentage of them end up in the hospital. And unfortunately, some are dying,” Dr. Bowling said.