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Pacific Should Enforce Mask Mandate for Fall 2021

Apr 15, 2021
masks

 

By: Angelique Doty
Wearing masks is the firepit of global controversy for over a year, stirring up issues with
political freedoms versus scientific fact. Pacific prioritizing students’ and faculty safety reassures
the high number of distressed students suffering from anxiety from this chaotic time. Pacific
should choose what best benefits the safety of its students, which should involve enforcing a
mask mandate this fall in accordance with its values of protecting this close-knit community.
Many students still do not feel safe returning on campus without the enforcement of
certain safety regulations in regard to COVID-19 precautions, a mask mandate being one of
them. If the mandate is enforced, students will appreciate Pacific’s attempts to prevent a
campus-wide outbreak by enforcing health regulations. As the nation learned over the past year,
this virus is so serious that it can cause the close in-person education system on campus to shut
down in a matter of days. A mask mandate, along with a vaccinated population, hopefully will
prevent another wave of infections that could cause a campus wide shutdown.
Provost Maria Pallavicini, the leading COVID-19 Council for Pacific and chief academic
officer, expressed that Pacific’s highest priority is keeping the community safe.
“The university's first priority is the health and safety of all Pacificans. We will continue
to follow guidance from public health experts and institute plans for face coverings, daily health
screenings, social distancing, testing and contact tracing to protect the health of our community,”
says Provost Pallavicini.
Her reasoning for supporting face coverings is based on guidance from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health experts, who claim that face
coverings help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by limiting the spread of respiratory
droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking. The circumstances under which Pacific reopens,
according to Pallavicini, depends all on the local conditions with the guidance of Federal, State
and County public health officials, attention to the health and safety of the campus community,
and in accordance with county tier assignments authorized in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Dayna Cerruti-Barbero PHN, FNPc, Director of Student Health Services, agrees with the
safety protocol in support of wearing masks.
“I’m 100% in support of whatever the current CDPH and CDC guidelines. By following
these guidelines, we will be able to re-open and resume our ‘in-person’ activities safely. If the
guidelines say wear masks - we need to wear masks. Sadly, the decision to wear a mask during
the COVID-19 pandemic has become more of a political issue than a health issue. Science has
made it abundantly clear that wearing a mask in public places is one of the easiest and most
effective things we can do to keep each other safe,” says Cerruti-Barbero.
As of April 14th, the coronavirus has proven to be violently threatening to the human
population with 138 million reported cases and 2.97 million deaths. More specifically, San
Joaquin County has 70,117 reported cases, 67,457 of which recovered from it, and tragically,
1,310 deaths, according to the San Joaquin COVID-19 Dashboard statistics. The new surge in
vaccine distribution has sparked hope for ending this pandemic in the near future. Dr. Maggie
Park, the San Joaquin County Public Health officer, told ABC10 that cases seem to be plateauing
rather than rising.

“The fact that we're plateauing and not continually rising with our hospitalizations and
ICU rates is a good thing,” says Dr. Park.
Even though this brings forth a sense of optimism, the ultimate goal is to bring the cases
down, which isn’t happening at the moment. San Joaquin should not relax quite yet despite this
good news: Lodi Memorial Hospital’s ICU capacity is at a shocking 190%. Dr. Park encourages
people to get the vaccine to help bring down the cases and wear their mask to help prevent the
spread of COVID-19.
The CDC will be relaxing the regulations on vaccinated people, but still require wearing
masks due to the possibility that a vaccinated person can still transmit COVID-19
asymptomatically. Vaccinated people may still carry the virus through the nose or nasal
passages, where it is most common, and infect others by breathing or sneezing without a mask.
They can get non-vaccinated people seriously ill with the virus.
According to an interview by the Wall Street Journal with Dr. Scott Hensley, professor
of microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, says that studies show that the Pfizer vaccine can
provide about six months of immunity. It is difficult to say if it can only provide up to six months
of immunity, since there is only six months of data to prove it.
“Six months from now it’s likely we’ll learn we have one year of protection,” says Dr.
Hensley.
The grey area about the time length of immunity just demonstrates that people should
continue to take precautions, such as mask wearing, as researchers do not have enough data to
definitely make certain claims.
Pacific has been more than generous and supportive of the students and faculty that build
the strong familial bond that lasts long after students receive their diplomas. Throughout this
difficult time, the university’s efforts through scholarships and COVID-19 relief grants helped
soften the financial burden caused by the pandemic. Pacific has made it very clear that the health
and safety of everyone on all three campuses is their top priority, and enforcing a mask mandate
in the fall would ensure this.