“Due to the high COVID-19 community level, mask-wearing is now required for all people when entering federal buildings and public transportation in Yosemite National Park, regardless of vaccination status,” the park said in an Instagram post. It has turned off comments on the post, with users only allowed to “like” the notification. Back in June, Yosemite had mandated masks for visitors.
As of Jan. 13, Mariposa County in California, one of the counties where the park is located, was placed on high alert over COVID-19 infections. In total, the county reported 4,488 cases and 41 deaths. Nine cases and one hospitalization were reported for the week ending Jan. 13.
Mask Mandates Across the Country
Multiple other parks across the United States have instituted mask requirements.
Adams National Historic Park in Massachusetts asks visitors to wear masks irrespective of vaccination status.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Virginia, Kings Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina, and Congaree National Park in South Carolina all now require visitors to wear masks inside the premises.
In addition to parks, other places are also making masks mandatory. Last month, the Oakland City Council in California voted to make masks mandatory in the city’s facilities, with the rule remaining in effect until March 31.
Medical facilities like the Regional Medical Center in Manchester and the Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, both in Iowa, made masks mandatory in December.
School districts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey had already announced before the winter break that students and faculty would have to mask up temporarily upon returning to schools.
Chelsea Public Schools in Boston instituted a mask mandate effective Jan. 9 after Suffolk County was designated high risk in terms of COVID-19 transmission. Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan has imposed a two-week mask mandate that began on Jan. 9.
Mask Effectiveness Questioned
The mask mandates come as some experts questioned the effectiveness of such measures and certain studies pointed out that wearing masks for a long time might even end up causing harm.
Yoav Yehezkelli, a specialist in internal medicine and medical management, told The Epoch Times that most studies looking at the effectiveness of masks during the pandemic “suffer from low quality and many biases.”
Only two high-quality studies have been done on the issue during this period, one in Denmark and the other in Bangladesh, he noted.
Overall, both studies showed that “there is no benefit in wearing masks to prevent infection with the coronavirus,” Yehezkelli said. Imposing mask requirements “doesn’t actually have a professional justification.”
A study published in December that analyzed how 114 health care workers (HCWs) responded to mask requirements in terms of preexisting dry-eye disease (DED), found that the policy worsened the condition.
In DED, tears are unable to provide adequate lubrication for the eyes, which can lead to inflammation and damage to the surface of the eye.
“HCWs who had previously experienced DED and who were under the age of 40, wearing a face mask for more than three to six hours/day could contribute to or worsen symptoms of DED. Also, we observed that the N-95 mask has a higher chance of causing DED than surgical masks,” the study said.