Don't Follow The CDC Just Yet – Rogan Smith
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Don’t Follow The CDC Just Yet

Image of a microscope

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that individuals who are fully vaccinated can stop wearing their face masks and social distancing. 

While this was welcome news for individuals experiencing Covid-19 fatigue and ready to get back to some degree of pre-pandemic normalcy, the move shocked many international health experts who feel the CDC is basically “throwing caution out of the window.” 

The CDC updated its guidance due to the fact that the US seems to be gaining some control over the pandemic. Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have declined recently.

But, not everyone is ready to toss the masks just yet. 

In Washington, DC, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has kept the mask mandate on the floor, despite backlash from GOP lawmakers. 

Pelosi noted that there were a number of unvaccinated House members who could not be forced to receive the vaccine. So, the mask mandate is scheduled to continue until all members are vaccinated. 

Naturally, Bahamians, as they often do, are watching developments in the US and questioning when The Bahamas will drop the mask mandate or at the very least ease social distancing restrictions. 

I don’t believe there is no need for The Bahamas to even give consideration to such a suggestion at this point considering that the Ministry of Health recently announced that there were 49 new Covid-19 cases and an increase in the nation’s death toll.

Image of test tubes

The Bahamas cannot afford to follow the CDC’s guidance just yet. Hopefully, it will in the near future. But, not now.

We do not have the resources or medical facilities that the US has. So, should we have another serious spike in the numbers, we may not be able to treat sick individuals. And not just the ones who have contracted the virus, but those needing treatment for other serious ailments or emergencies. 

While the CDC says fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing it did note that there were exceptions, particularly in instances when federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, require individuals to wear a mask. This also includes local business and workplace guidance. 

There are many organizations in the US that are already frustrated that they are being called upon to police customersand clients to wear their masks.

It’s a particularly dangerous situation for workers who have to deal with customers who are reluctant to comply.

I was in a store in Virginia last week and three women walked in the store without wearing masks. A frontline worker stopped them and asked them to put on their masks, they continued walking, noting that they were vaccinated and that the CDC had said there was no need to wear a mask.

The worker quickly informed the trio that the company’s policy had remained unchanged. Naturally, there was a heated exchange of words. But, the rep refused to budge and the women eventually complied. 

Image of face masks.

I saw the frustration on that rep’s face and she told me that she had to stop 10 people from entering the store that day without masks and that it was stressing her out. Workers shouldn’t be placed in that position. 

I know many Bahamians, are fed-up with the restrictions and are ready to toss their masks in the garbage. But, given public sentiment about the vaccine and many people’s reluctance to get immunized, it’s best to continue mandating that people wear them for now.

Unless individuals are prepared to walk around with a medical card or record that says they were vaccinated, how are businesses and individuals to know who is indeed vaccinated and who isn’t.

The CDC is already facing backlash for its position shift. We need to tread carefully. 

Tribute To Donna Nicolls 

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of longtime activist and Bahamas Crisis Centre Deputy Director, Donna Nicolls.

She was 67.

Donna passed away last Monday in her native Kingston, Jamaica, following a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. Her passing was a major blow for The Bahamas. 

For those who did not have the great fortune of meeting Donna, you missed out on an incredible human being

She was a fearless warrior who did not bite her tongue when it came to addressing inequities and abuse in our country. But, she was never disrespectful or unreasonable. 

I had the privilege of interviewing her many times, especially when she appeared as a guest on my former talk show, Ed Fields Live. She often came with Crisis Centre Director, Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson and would detail some of the most shocking events that were happening in our country. 

Even though both of those women had witnessed the worst humanity had to offer, it never derailed them from their purpose. 

I often marveled at her innate passion for helping individuals who could not help themselves. They didn’t come more real than Donna. 

I extend my sympathies not only to her daughter, Noelle, who is a former colleague of mine, but to her husband, Teran and son, Rande, as well as the countless men, women and children who have been touched by Donna’s kindness and assistance.

We lost a real one last week. She will be sorely missed. 

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