COVID-19 infection rates have declined substantially since this winter, however COVID still presents a profound health threat to many; we are still experiencing excess deaths due to COVID and ongoing health issues due to long COVID. Over the course of the pandemic we have also seen different health, psychological, and economic impacts of COVID depending on peoples' underlying health and resources to manage time out of work or school due to periods of illness or isolation. We need to be prepared in Milton to help our community deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic on health and well-being, as well as continue to prevent new infections.
Over the last two years we have developed a greater understanding of COVID and more tools to protect ourselves. The vaccines prevent serious illness and death for many, we have better treatments, home tests can be used before visiting vulnerable friends and family, and N95 masks are widely available for individual use. Compared to the beginning of the pandemic when we only had shutdowns and mask mandates to slow the spread of COVID, we are now asking individuals to assess their own risks and to protect themselves with vaccines, masks, and home tests.
While campaigning, I have been asked whether I "support mask mandates."
I would say there is not a current need for universal mask mandates, mask wearing has become a personal choice in most settings. However, if some future variant hits us like Omicron, threatening overfilled hospitals and high death rates among the elderly and immunocompromised, I would see mask mandates as an important tool to reduce suffering and would consider supporting a mandate. I know mask mandates are not without their costs, especially for our children, and would not support a mandate without hearing all voices and carefully weighing the pros and cons of a mandate.