As we get into Fall 2022, at OpenSource Wushu we are still wearing masks while working out, despite the fact that most other institutions including are not. While I can tell you that at the hospital where I work, masking inside is still required of everyone, there’s a feeling by many in the general public that the pandemic is over.
I even had a conversation with a very liberal university professor recently who asked me why I was still concerned. He was surprised to find out that in the US we are still having more than 400 deaths a day due to COVID and that it’s the third leading cause of death right now in the US. The other major causes of death, heart disease and cancer are somewhat less directly preventable.
If you compare this to the flu (which many will do), 400 deaths/day x 365 days/year leads to 146,000 deaths per year versus 52,000 flu deaths in 2018 – the largest number in a decade. So despite the vaccination, we’re on track to have 3 times the number of deaths (at minimum) than for a bad year with the flu. If you get COVID and survive, meaning you had anything from a mild case to being hospitalized, according to the CDC, 1 in 5 of you will have post-COVID complications.
I’ve now spoken to many people who said – “You know, I had COVID and it just wasn’t that big a deal.” The problem is that for many people it is a big deal, even when vaccinated. Here are the stats on your risk of dying based on age and number of vaccine dosages. You’ll notice that more vaccinations are better for mitigating risk, but also that older people fare far worse than the rest of us. There are also the immunocompromised among us, and at OSW we have some folks who fit that description.
Frankly, if we lose some participation in order to keep our participants safe, it’s worth it. While I was chatting with a PT at the hospital about when I would be scheduling my next booster (not all the available times are super convenient), one of the doctors cut in saying “Don’t mess around, this stuff is so contagious, you need to just do it already, forget the inconvenience.” He said this to me knowing that I already had 4 doses, just like everyone at the hospital, and was talking about my fifth dose.
The current booster is bivalent meaning that it includes some components of the original COVID virus, as well as the Omicron variant. Here’s what the FDA says about the booster:
So what to do? In our case, since some of us do martial arts for self-protection, and others do martial arts for health, we take the additional step of masking up which we know works. We can also stay up to date with boosters. Dependent on your favorite pharmacy, here are some links to get you scheduled:
In a followup piece, I’ll be describing the good and bad of working out with masks from an exercise viewpoint. There is, it seems, a silver lining for your health – albeit there are some gotchas to look out for.
In the meantime, stay safe, get boosted, and wear a mask indoors.