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The Great Unmasking of America

Greetings. I hope everyone has been able to enjoy the beautiful weather we have been having. Does anyone remember how hot it was 2 years ago in May? Charleston was hosting the Women's US Open (golf), and the temperatures were scorching.

This week, Kiawah is hosting the Men's PGA Championship, and the forecast looks good, but heating up for the weekend. Unfortunately, ticket sales were limited due to Covid, but at least the tournament is happening, and I am wondering if patrons will be required to wear masks...while governments are lifting mandates, individual organizations, business, and institutions are still requiring masks.

For instance, hospitals are still requiring masks, so as a result, we are continuing our mask policies in my office. So now, the mask question is more confusing (or insane) than ever. I went to Trader Joe's on Sunday.

Masks were required for staff, but not for patrons that have been vaccinated, using an "honor code" for customers and their vaccination status. A large nursing agency just announced their recommendations that mask wearing continue because individuals could not be trusted to be honest about their vaccination status.

Sadly, I have already seen firsthand people lie about their vaccination status, so I am sure that it will be a widespread issue. The good news is that we are not seeing spike of Covid in states like Texas that lifted mask mandates months ago, and even with fibbers, the US has done a great job vaccinating its citizens.

So between actual cases and the vaccines, the goal of herd immunity is being achieved. I saw an email written by a colleague in Michigan yesterday who theorized something interesting. He wonders whether the lifting of the mask mandates is a "calculated" decision to incentivize people to get vaccinated and at the same time allow the spread of the virus amongst the un-vaccinated during the summer months when hospital utilization is typically lower, thereby achieving herd immunity by the fall. His ideas are interesting, especially since only a month ago the state of Michigan was seeing record spikes of cases, yet the mandates for masks have now been lifted.

I think Covid is something we will be hearing about for quite some time. It is a virus will be likely need to learn to live with. And unfortunately, while we are making great Covid progress, I heard yesterday that Japan is considering cancelling the Summer Olympics. I certainly hope this does not happen for the sake of all of the athletes who have been training so hard.

And as we emerge from Covid and start seeing people's faces again, I also hope that we can regain a sense of civility that seems to have eroded over the last year. Tensions and hostilities seem to be higher than usual these days, maybe because people can hide behind masks, and I see so many people who are suffering.

There is such focus on Covid and masks, politics, etc, that people's everyday struggles

seem to be taking a back seat. I have seen patients who are struggling with the heartache of cancer diagnoses and other devastating medical conditions of themselves or family members.

Patients have shared their sad stories about losing loved ones, and because of Covid and social distancing, many have suffered alone. Many of us feel as though our lives were put on hold the last year, and it's time to start living. Memorial Day is later this month, the unofficial start to summer.

To usher in summer, we'll be celebrating with some specials next week. Let's make this the best summer yet! I'm ending today with some song lyrics from One Republic that keep me going when the going get's tough and until the next blog, go out there and seize the day!

"Hope that you fall in love And it hurts so bad The only way you can know You give it all you have And I hope that you don't suffer But take the pain Hope when the moment comes you'll say I, I did it all I, I did it all I owned every second that this world could give I saw so many places The things that I did Yeah, with every broken bone I swear I lived Hope that you spend your days But they all add up And when that sun goes down Hope you raise your cup Oh, oh I wish that I could witness All your joy And all your pain But until my moment comes, I'll say I, I did it all I, I did it all I owned every second that this world could give I saw so many places The things that I did Yeah, with every broken bone I swear I lived"

Until next time,

Dr. Heidi Williams md

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