1. Infectious disease experts say it’s time to end to universal masking in healthcare settings
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Touting advancements in prevention and management of SARS-CoV-2 since the pathogen was initially identified in 2019, healthcare epidemiologists and infectious disease experts from eight institutions say now is the time to end policies mandating universal masking in the healthcare settings – at least for now. The commentary is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The authors say that throughout the pandemic, widespread use of universal masking in healthcare settings was justifiable for reducing the risk of transmission between health care personnel, patients, and visitors, and preserving the healthcare workforce to maintain operations during surges. Universal masking was one element of a larger bundle of strategies implemented to limit transmission during a time when little was known about the pathogen and effective interventions had not yet been identified. Since then, the burden of SARS-CoV-2 has been mitigated through access to testing, substantial population-level immunity acquired over time, emergence of less virulent variants, and widespread availability and use of vaccines and treatments. This means the time has come to manage SARS-CoV-2 as other endemic respiratory viruses using correct and consistent application of Standard and Transmission-based Precautions. These include health care personnel use of masks and eye protection when engaging in activities that generate splashes or sprays to the face, regardless of patient symptoms, and masking of patients when symptoms are present, among other precautions.
In addition to ending universal masking, the experts suggest that other pandemic-era strategies, such as asymptomatic testing and contact tracing, should be reconsidered in the endemic era.
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2. Physicians and scientists, not judges, should make safety decisions about patient care
“Capricious” mifepristone decision threatens to end access to a safe and effective medication for miscarriage and abortion
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In what Wendy K. Mariner, Professor Emerita, Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights, at Boston University School of Public Health calls an arbitrary, capricious, and partisan decision, Texas federal district court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that nationwide marketing of mifepristone should be halted. If the decision is allowed to stand, women will lose access to a safe and effective medication for miscarriage and abortion. A commentary explaining the decision and its lack of legal and scientific merit is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Mariner explains that the plaintiffs, all anti-choice, pro-life advocates, argued that mifepristone is not safe and should never have been approved at all. Mariner argues that accepting that claim would mean that a medication used safely and effectively by 5 million women over 23 years is too dangerous to remain on the market. The drug will still be available while the decision is being appealed, but the stakes are high. This decision heightens political tensions and may encourage judges to impose their own ideology in the courtroom. The author warns that attacks on reproductive rights are almost always enforced by punishing physicians. Further, laws have never stopped women from trying to control pregnancy or seek abortion, even more reason it should be safe and available to all who need it.
Annals of Internal Medicine
METHOD OF RESEARCH
SUBJECT OF RESEARCH
Universal Masking in Health Care Settings: A Pandemic Strategy Whose Time Has Come and Gone, For Now
ARTICLE PUBLICATION DATE
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