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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Air quality is bad

Don't throw away your face masks

By Will Collette

The air we breath is currently in the "UNHEALTHY" range for pm2 particulates coming to us from the forest fires in the Canadian northwest. The air quality is expected to improve as wet weather rolls in but as long as those fires are burning, we can expect more unhealthy air.

The fires send fine particulates of ash for thousands of miles. We can inhale them and they can end up lodged deep in our lungs.

According to DEM:

Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including: 
• premature death in people with heart or lung disease 
• nonfatal heart attacks 
• irregular heartbeat • aggravated asthma 
• decreased lung function 
• increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing.
People with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure.

If you use your face masks, you can cut down on the intake of that bad air. 

We're also on the verge of having masking orders reinstated, particularly indoors, as Rhode Island's COVID infection rate climbs.

This morning, WPRI reported that RI's community transmission rate has become "substantial." For several weeks, we were seeing less than 10 cases per 100,000 but we have risen to 57 per 100,000.  and that's alarming.

The Delta variant is driving the surge in new cases. It is much more infectious and dangerous than the COVID we experienced last summer.

It's also only part of the story, however. Since our system to test extensively has largely collapsed, we don't really know how bad things have gotten. As Donald Trump used to say "No testing, no cases." He was right on this one thing - if we don't test, we don't really know what's happening.

This is especially true for the fully vaccinated who may be experiencing "breakthrough infections" without knowing they have COVID. The vaccines are doing their job in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death for nearly all fully vaccinated people, but that doesn't mean you can't pass the disease on to the unvaccinated.

As bad as it is to see our COVID transmission rate go up 500%, imagine how bad it REALLY is when you take into account people carrying the virus but are untested.

Our accidental Governor Dan McGee is waffling on whether to use the emergency powers he has retained over the strenuous objections of our anti-vaxxer Charlestown state rep Blake "Flip" Filippi to instate mask mandates. 

I've noticed that far more people have made that decision for themselves by masking up in grocery stores. 

Bottom line: the prudent choice is to put your masks back on. And if you haven't gotten vaccinated yet, get it done before you land in the hospital (or the morgue).