Dr. Jennifer Dien Bard and McGuireWoods partner Samuel Tarry penned a March 8, 2021, article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch titled “Avoiding a war over masking” about the transition from obligatory to voluntary mask use as COVID-19 vaccinations increase.
To keep the peace between people with different opinions on masking, the authors proposed that the public should recognize the benefit of masks as vaccine efficacy against variants is evaluated; focus on how masks contribute to reducing severe COVID-19 cases; and acknowledge that masks, while protective, may contribute to feelings of isolation and stress for some.
State and city governments, along with employers, will continue to wrestle with decisions on mask mandates as vaccines become more available.
According to the authors, “It’s neither reasonable nor preferable to expect mandatory masking to continue past the state of emergency, but it is important that the rush to unmask not be reckless.” They urged that holistic risk analysis should inform future mask decisions because a “willing public will more effectively fight the pandemic to the end than a cynical or unreceptive public.”
Bard is director of the Clinical Microbiology and Virology Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Tarry is a partner in McGuireWoods’ Products, Environmental & Mass Torts Litigation Department and an editor of the book “Infectious Disease Litigation: Science, Law & Procedure,” published in February 2021 by the American Bar Association.