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Editorial by Dr. Miles Weinberger, MD.

"The responsible solution is demonstrated by the common-sense position taken by Stephen Colbert" - by Miles Weinberger

JULY 28, 2021 5:40 PM PT

Weinberger is a pediatric pulmonologist and a visiting professor of clinical pediatrics at UC San Diego, which is affiliated with Rady Children’s Hospital. He lives in Encinitas.

Extracted from The San Diego Tribune HERE

Community commentary

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The Spreckels Theatre is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jarrod Valliere/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

As a theater buff, I have looked forward to once again enjoying the live theater available in San Diego. I have been in contact with four of the live theater venues in San Diego County to determine the measures that will be undertaken to protect the audience. Indoor theaters, by their very nature, are an environment where those attending are in prolonged close proximity to each other with no opportunity to maintain social distancing. Those who are infected with and carrying the virus in that environment are likely to spread the virus to others.

My query to one of the popular theaters in San Diego County resulted in the following email response: “fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask indoors and individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask indoors.” The email stated that vaccination status would not be verified; patrons who do not wear a mask would be self-attesting to their status as fully vaccinated. Referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a guide, this was stated to be the practice at most theater venues in San Diego city and county.

Is this plan realistic and safe? Patrons not fully vaccinated will be expected to self-attest and wear a mask. But those who believe that those not vaccinated will reliably self-attest to their deficient status are naive, gullible or intentionally denying human behavior. This quote from county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher expresses the reality: “I think one of the challenges with this is that individuals who are choosing to not get vaccinated are the same individuals who are going to choose to not wear a mask.” A May column in The Washington Post by health expert Leana S. Wen illustrated another issue: There might be little incentive for people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they have to keep wearing masks. More realistically, what would be the motivation to self-assess that they were not vaccinated? It would be easier to just not wear a mask like those who are vaccinated.

The responsible solution is demonstrated by the common-sense position taken by Stephen Colbert, the satirical late-night comedian. When his show, after 15 months, returned to the Ed Sullivan Theater with a full live audience, he stated on air that tickets would only be given to those immunized against the virus that causes COVID-19. Indoor theaters in San Diego County should do no less. The individual personal good and the public health and community benefit of establishing that same practice would be the most effective and comfortable policy for theater-goers. Moreover, that policy could provide encouragement for those not fully immunized to get with the program.

Those who choose to not get the vaccine have that right! But those operating indoor venues where patrons are in close proximity for an extended period have the responsibility to provide a safe environment for their clientele. And theater patrons have the right to expect no less than an environment where exposure to COVID-19, especially this new highly contagious coronavirus delta variant, is minimized by requiring immunization for entry. The only rational practice then would be to require evidence of immunization in order to participate in indoor environments where people are in close proximity for an extended period. - Miles Weinberger, MD

Editor note: We thought it would give more insight into the brilliant mind of Dr. Weinberger to include his editorial here. - Dennis



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