Face shields are necessary. After a gripping saga of will-they-or-won’t-they, that’s Malacañang’s latest final take on the issue.
ICYMI, the heavy hitters of the Philippine government recently participated in a game of volleyball on whether face shields should still be required for outdoor use—or just plain use it at all. It all started when Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III tweeted that the president agreed that face shields should only be for hospital use and called on the Department of Health (DOH) to echo the statement.[READ: Bye, face shields? Duterte will require it only in hospitals, says Sotto]
Many of us took a non-foggy breath of relief at the news. We all know that face shields are finicky, flimsy, and not all that helpful in preventing infection if not paired with a mask. After much back and forth (and a premature announcement on presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s end), face shields are here to stay.
But the face shield saga is the least of our worries.
COVID-19 Delta is here
The COVID-19 Delta variant is here. According to DOH undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, this variant is believed to be 60 percent more infectious than the original COVID-19 variant that originated in Wuhan, China.
The Delta variant can spread faster, and there’s also not enough evidence to show just how effective most locally available vaccines are against this new type of COVID-19.
As of writing, there are a total of 17 COVID-19 Delta cases in the country with one active case and one fatality.
Most vaccines are yet to arrive
While people in the A1 to A4 category are eligible to get vaccinated, the vast majority of us are still waiting for promised vaccines to arrive. According to the DOH website, the bulk of the vaccines will be arriving later this year, with no specified date.
According to the Herd Immunity calculator, we’re about 1.7 years away from herd immunity with the current rate of vaccinations.
While the government has moved to ban the entry of travelers from high Delta-positive countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, this ban only lasts until June 30, which arguably isn’t enough to curb a potential Delta outbreak. You know, because it’s already here.
Former special advisor to the National Task Force on COVID-19 Dr. Anthony “Tony” Leachon put it best: Other countries are worrying about important matters while we’re stuck on flimsy pieces of plastic that make seeing more difficult than it should be.
Most of us are still hung up on the fact that there was such a huge back and forth on the face shield issue. This could have easily been avoided if there were just a little coordination and some communication on everyone’s end before tweeting and talking to the media (you know, like in a group chat). But what’s more pressing here is that if the government continues to magnify tiny issues instead of focusing on what’s actually important, there is no way out of this pandemic.
Again, this is our reminder to vote next year. In times of crisis, we need decisive action to lead us out of the fire. We can’t have people twiddling their thumbs and deciding on whether to bring the refrigerator or not while we suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.