Fewer masks could make more people targets for other viruses


DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and state’s continue lifting mask mandates, some medical experts are warning of other viruses moving in.

“We’ve gotten rid of a lot of mask mandates. Therefore respiratory viruses are able to spread like they normally do,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, patient safety officer for Kettering Health.

One major concern is the upcoming flu season. America saw its lowest levels in decades after experts warned of a possible “twindemic” — the flu and COVID-19 — in early 2021. Some experts point to mask mandates as a possible reason the U.S. saw virtually no cases, others claim that COVID-19 simply muscled out the competitors.

“Of course we recommend getting your flu shot this summer. There are some concerns that we could have a bad flu season this coming winter because we’re not able to predict which strains might be circulating since there’s been almost no flu circulating,” said Dr. Weinstein.

Amanda Weinstein, a Miami Valley parent, said her children have already had colds this summer.

“I’ve talked to a lot of moms and we all had almost no cold and flu last year which was really amazing, but it also meant they weren’t building up those antibodies,” said Amanda.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting an increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases — going as far as issuing a health advisory for parts of the Southern United States.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild, cold-like symptoms, however, it’s the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the U.S.

Now that most students are out for the summer, Amanda is worried about her children returning to the classroom for the 2021-22 school year and possibly catching other viruses.

“Coming into the fall next year without the masks, we’re just gonna see these kids who haven’t build antibodies. We’re gonna see a lot more colds and flus next year,” said Amanda.

Dr. Weinstein encourages people who catch a virus this summer and fall to isolate themselves until they’re better, and believes that masks could be a useful tool in preventing the spread.

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