Letters to the editor reflect the opinion of the writer(s), not the Rapp News. Comment below or by writing a letter to the editor: editor@rappnews.com.

Quite a few years ago, when I was participating in a seminar, the really excellent instructor halted me in the midst of my presentation because I was getting a bit wound up. “Stop!” she quietly stated, then continued when that got my attention (!), “take a deep breath through your nose, hold it 5 seconds, and blow out through your mouth. Do this 5 times to calm down.” 

That suggestion was effective and I have always remembered it during some difficult times. Perhaps a lot of us could try that method during these seemingly crazy times where there is sometimes a lack of needed information or mixed messaging. 

Think of the way COVID-19 numbers are listed. Here in Rappahannock County, we see over 400 positive cases reported, and increasing. At least the Rappahannock News online daily newsletter has an asterisk, explaining the number as collected from March 2020 to date. That helps with perspective. I talked with someone recently who didn’t realize that and was very concerned with that number until I explained it.

Next, explore the number of those recovered from COVID-19 and have natural immunity. That is hard to find and I’m unsure why. That number added to the numbers of those vaccinated illustrate how protected we really are from the disastrous results we saw last year with no vaccines and less knowledge of how vulnerable our older population is to this virus. Add to this, there are now therapeutics that aid in treatment and recovery when caught in early stages of the disease, possibly those who test positive with no outward signs. There was news coverage about this Sept. 2, 2021, on the Washington, D.C., Channel 4, from the local MedStarHealth, titled “Monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19.”

Then there are reports of breakthrough COVID-19 cases among the vaccinated. This probably applies to recovered patients as well. Research the severity of these patients and you will probably discover that breakthrough cases result in mild disease. However, look deeper into other reports and find out who else is getting COVID-19: the unvaccinated who have the severity of the illness, who also have underlying conditions (age group, underlying conditions such as very overweight, ethnic groups, as some are more wary of vaccines than others.)

These facts can make a huge difference in how a person might understand the possible threat of infection and it’s consequences/severity. Note that when Pfizer received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently, there was a significant increase in vaccinations which illustrates the many who hesitated when FDA approval was nonexistent.

Into this complex mix, put the mask discussion. In the Aug. 25, 2021, issue of The Wall Street Journal, Jason L. Riley addressed the back to school masking concerns by quoting a New York Magazine article which reported on the findings of a “mostly ignored large-scale study of COVID transmission in American schools” that was published in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The study called into question the efficacy of face coverings for children in schools. Mr. Riley went on to state, “If parents want to be extra careful and have their children wear masks, that ought to be their prerogative.” However, he continued, “when empirical studies, along with the experience of so many other Western nations, cast serious doubt on whether a policy is having the intended effect. It’s no wonder so many frustrated Americans are now telling policy makers what they can do with their mandates.”

So, encourage vaccinations to deal as effectively as possible with COVID-19. There is vaccine ability this Thursday, Sept. 9, right here in Rappahannock County to help. It’s time to stop, take a deep breath, and breathe out to calm whatever fears we have. Think of the facts surrounding this pandemic and strive for a healthier, less stressful, life here in our delightful county.

Sheila Gresinger

The writer lives in Washington


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