Dr. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, now says that even after receiving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
However, Dr. Fauci also has said, according to Axios, the Centers for Disease Control believes 3 feet of physical separation is now OK, instead of the 6-foot social distancing we’ve had to observe for the past 12 months, since “we don’t yet know if the vaccine will stop you from spreading the virus to others.”
Just in case you were tempted to think Fauci and the CDC were growing reasonable, Reason magazine alerts us that: The nation’s top health officials think day care providers should continue requiring children as young as 2 years old to wear masks at all times — except while eating and napping — and that will remain the case even after all teachers and staff are vaccinated.
We have devolved to where some of these experts advised the wearing of two masks — even if you have been vaccinated. They have no “science” behind this, but only conjecture that “it makes common sense that if one mask is good, two masks would be better.” I should not have been surprised recently when one local business actually handed me a surgical-styled mask and asked that I wear it under my regular mask. (Breathing was optional?)
Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, sparred again recently with Dr. Fauci in a Senate hearing, accusing the doctor of “making policy based on conjecture” and said, “You’ve been vaccinated, and you parade around in two masks for show.”
The Message of Masks
At the start of this worldwide pandemic, most masks were modeled after the medical surgical-masks. Some, like Nancy Pelosi’s, became colorful, complementing fashion-statements. Others carried humorous or inspiring messages, while others, unfortunately, featured vile comments or images from the “dark side.”
Our church gave out some masks, which said, “This mask is hiding my smile!” It was a warm reminder of how important facial expressions are in communication. When everyone is wearing a mask, we miss out on so much in sharing with others.
The Witness of Masks
In 1 Corinthians 8 and 9, the Apostle Paul shares some godly principles of Christian ethics that can be used in relating to others in critical times like this COVID-19 epidemic. He begins in chapter 8, verses 1-12, talking about being sensitive to the conscience and convictions of others.
In that Corinthian context, the issue related to the pagan practice of sacrificing food to idols. Some believers could ignore that issue and buy sacrificed meat at the market — perhaps at discount! Other believers remembered their former lives when they had been the ones doing the sacrificing and they could not, in good conscience, buy and eat the meat.
Paul cautioned the first group to be considerate of the consciences of the other group, “lest by any means this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to those who are weak.” Pride, arrogance or manipulation are not appropriate. We should review these considerations in verses 9-13 and find principles we might apply to others in this pandemic and post-vaccine world.
So, the first principle to learn and apply to our post-vaccine world is to demonstrate self-denial by respecting and loving others, who are likewise made in the image of our Creator. We can honor God by respecting the well-being of His created ones.
I’ve heard some say that, since the vaccines are only supposed to be 95% effective, millions of people who may receive the shots are still unsafe and could still spread the disease by human-to-human transmission via respiratory droplets. Therefore, these cautions and concerned people may still want to wear masks (and wish you and I would, too) even after maximum inoculations.
The hoped-for “herd immunity” is only historically gained over contagious diseases — smallpox, polio, diphtheria or rubella — after enough people either survive the infection (and gain immunity) or are immune after the vaccinations. The three vaccines currently approved in the U.S. were developed under President Donald Trump’s “Warp Speed” policies and in record times. They were only approved for use on emergency status since they were never tested for unintended consequences on a large group of people over a long period of time. Thus, the continued cautious concern among many.
A second post-vaccine principle we can learn from the Apostle Paul is that personal convictions on ethical matters must be personally developed. To have a lasting value they cannot be borrowed from someone else, nor force-fed by some government bureaucracy. They must become the daily standards by which life is lived with integrity and honesty before God and love for our brothers and sisters. Fuzzy consciences become clear by consistently applying biblical principles. Make sure the convictions you develop are based on the word of God and not just an effort to rationalize your selfish desires.
The debates over individual freedoms, federal laws or executive actions can cause relational divisions, even among friends and family. Usually, divisions occur when we try to impose our views upon others. To this issue, Paul says, “Pursue the things which produce peace and the things that build up one another,” and, “The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God.”
Will you or I continue to wear a mask after being vaccinated? Or will you or I even submit to unproven vaccinations in the first place? It all depends on the convictions we develop, based on our love for God, our brothers, sisters and the masses of people around us who still need our consideration.
Gary Curtis is a Newhall resident.