Maskless US Colleagues Roll the COVID-19 Dice

I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed when I saw this photo, taken at the recent AIEA conference in New Orleans, and a colleague’s comment: First time in my 40 year career to ever comment on how great it is to see maskless intl educators at work at a conference. My first thought was, Has COVID-19 been eradicated in the US?  Did I miss that breaking news?

Since dinner is over and there are only glasses of water on the table, I’m wondering why no one is wearing a mask? Since people are sitting elbow to elbow at a table that is well shy of a meter wide, there’s obviously no social distancing. I (also) wonder how many ended up testing positive for COVID and how many others they infected before they knew they were sick?

I don’t mean to rain on their parade and, yes, I’m well aware that those of us who are fortunate enough to be fully vaccinated and boostered generally experience relatively minor symptoms. COVID infections among most members of this group are more of an inconvenience and disruption than anything else. It’s no big deal, right? What about the more than 50% who experience “long COVID,” long-term effects related to a virus that has long since left their bodies, including brain atrophy and damage? What about infecting others? Those who have underlying conditions are still dying of COVID-19. (The US reported another 1,686 deaths on 7 March for a grand total of 987,615 to date.) Why tempt fate?

 I, too, look forward to the day when masks will no longer be necessary but we’re not there yet. Far from it.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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