We are concerned with the CDC’s recent recommendations for vaccinated people not to wear masks in most public environments. Particularly with the agency’s ableist position that appears to reinforce the medical industry’s history of eugenics. Those most vulnerable in our communities are not disposable.
The CDC states, “At this time, there are limited data on vaccine protection in people who are immunocompromised. People with immunocompromising conditions, including those taking immunosuppressive medications (for instance drugs, such as mycophenolate and rituximab, to suppress rejection of transplanted organs or to treat rheumatologic conditions), should discuss the need for personal protective measures with their healthcare provider after vaccination.”
That the CDC is comfortable removing this basic and proven protective measure while simultaneously acknowledging there are unknown risks for those most vulnerable is extremely concerning.
Since we have been organizing, our groups have prioritized vulnerable communities for direct support including immunocompromised and unsheltered relatives. From when almost nothing was known about COVID-19 until today, we have monitored and reviewed the most up-to-date information from a range of sources about the nature of the novel virus and risks of transmission. Our groups have adopted protocols what we feel are the highest standard to prevent transmission of this virus.
The position we are in is distinct regarding the severe outbreak that our Indigenous communities (on and off the Rez) faced throughout last year. We endured serious losses and faced obstructions and failures by municipal, state, and Tribal governments. We welcomed when responses or support reflected the severity of the outbreak, but we saw and continue to see neglect and tacit disposal of those most vulnerable.
For example, although the Navajo Nation is a leading force in vaccinations, we have also witnessed reluctance to the vaccination by elders (for a range of reasons including distrust of the medical Industry due to previous experimentation and exploitation) and lack of vaccination availability for unsheltered relatives. Though we have seen on the ground healthcare providers go above and beyond to provide information and access.
We have already experienced resistance to masks by some who believe they are a “form of control.” We see those same people emboldened by this announcement. That further places people at risk.
Not everyone is vaccinated, including children under 12, and even if they were, there are unknown risks for immunocompromised community members. We cannot in good conscience accept the current revised mask guidelines by the CDC for these basic reasons.
Masks keep people safe from COVID-19 and from state violence. We urge everyone to respect those most vulnerable in our community and continue to observe this basic practice out of care for our relatives. We wear masks for others, not just ourselves. At this point our groups will not be changing COVID-19 safety protocols until we have clear data that indicates there are significantly reduced risks for those most vulnerable.
Additionally, we acknowledge that we are not scientists, but we rely on the science and precautions of our Indigenous healers and teachings. In this way we offer solidarity and support for those most vulnerable in our community.
Indigenous Mutual Aid
Kinłani Mutual Aid
Regeneration on the Reservation
Red Sleeves Anti-Colonial Action
Autonomous ABQ Mutual Aid