To the Editor:

The April 14 letter to the Bethel Citizen editor incorrectly reported that “a negative COVID test for all would be the only comprehensive safety protocol” (referring to The Gem’s policy requiring proof of vaccination).

It is misleading to report that “a negative COVID test for all” is a comprehensive safety protocol. There is no comprehensive COVID safety protocol for public places. However, scientific evidence proves our best defense against contracting coronavirus is getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing. The best way to mitigate transmission is masking, maintaining social distancing, and, if symptomatic, testing and isolating if the test is positive. Businesses requiring proof of vaccination or masking are to be commended for doing their part in effectively mitigating coronavirus transmission.

Relying on a COVID testing-only strategy is not a safe approach to mitigating transmission. Researchers estimate people who get infected with COVID can spread it to others 2-3 days before symptoms start and are most contagious 1-2 days before feeling sick. For example, if you got infected yesterday, today’s test likely would be negative but you would be infectious.

Certainly, nothing in this world is 100% guaranteed; we simply move on, making our decisions based on the best scientific evidence at hand. Critical thinking based on scientific evidence and peer-reviewed studies should be front and center in our understanding and decision-making related to coronavirus prevention and protection.

Here’s to good health to all.

Karen Reill, ScD


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