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Opinion: Masks no longer required — but what’s the long-term solution?

Masks may not have been as effective as we hoped in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but testing could be a better option.

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A flight attendant wearing a face mask secures luggage on an airplane and passengers, also in face masks, wait for takeoff.

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant is pictured on May 24, 2020, during the mask mandate. The mask mandate is no longer enforced, but how to stay safe during travel is still up for debate.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

Are masks on airplanes actually providing protection? Well if everyone wore a sterile N95 mask the whole flight without eating or drinking then yes. If people are wearing their own cloth masks from home then no, not really. It has the appearance but not the effect. It’s posing and it’s free for the government. For one thing, they don’t make N95 masks for 2-year-olds and I don’t think it would be safe for them to wear them if they did. The World Health Organization doesn’t think kids under 6 should wear masks.

A more effective way to stop the spread would be to require everyone be tested at the airport by Transportation Security Administration or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-licensed labs, and if someone is positive, to quarantine them right then and there. This is not free — this is expensive. But this would actually work. They could test again at the exit, and it would be easier to contact trace because you know who was on the flight.

Is this Trump-appointed judge wrong that the government is shirking its duty to actually prevent infection? The way to prevent infection is testing, contact tracing and quarantine. The fantasy that masks on airplanes work for the duration of the flight is dangerous and ignorant.

Emily Watts

Fairfield, California