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Ending mask mandates: Challenges for the immunocompromised and lessons from the pandemic

Ending mask mandates: Challenges for the immunocompromised and lessons from the pandemic
Posted at 11:48 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 01:48:50-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Now that Pima County has ended its mask mandate, many local school districts are following suit. It’s a change that has many immunocompromised students questioning their new normal.

At five years old, Sarah Rose Braithwaite underwent surgery and later chemo to respond to a cancerous brain tumor. Doctors also had to remove her hypothalamus and pituitary gland. This resulted in medical complications for the rest of her life. If she gets sick...

“I have to triple the medications, the hormone medications, and that throws everything out of whack,” said Tanya Hammond, Sarah Rose's mother.

Despite these struggles, Braithwaite is dedicated to living a balanced life. She’s currently in eighth grade at Orange Grove Middle School.

“It’s a balancing act," Hammond said. "We have to live and embrace and be grateful and we have to be careful.”

Her school stopped mandating masks on Monday, but for her health, she still wears hers.

"This really scares me I'm always thinking who what where and when they’ve been around,” said Sarah Rose Braithwaite, cancer survivor.

Once again, society is starting to shift back to normal. But medical experts and the immunocompromised are urging us to remember the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic.

“everything we’ve done with hand hygiene is something we should’ve been doing always," said Dr. William Ellert, Chief Medical officer for Carondelet Hospitals. "That shouldn’t be something that as the mask mandates go away and everything else, that we say now we don’t have to wash our hands or sanitize as much.”

Dr. William Ellert says we should still wash our hands, social distance or wear masks when sick, and be respectful to vulnerable populations. The goal is to avoid sicknesses in the future, and to put an end to COVID.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can do those things and still survive,” Ellert said.