The CDC announced in May that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in most indoor settings. California is officially ending the Stay at Home Order and fully reopening the economy today – no more physical distancing, no more capacity limits on businesses, no more county tiers, and relaxed mask guidance. I know, many people are excited, and I understand that people feel like they’ve done what was asked of them (= got vaccinated) and should be able to enjoy some freedom. But are YOU ready to ditch the mask yet?
I need to be honest; I remain skeptical. We are now supposed to use the honor code; after everything we’ve been through this past year? After we were told repeatedly by the last administration that COVID is a hoax? After all the conspiracy theories, the fake news, leading to a divided nation and an insurrection at the dawn of the new administration? And now we’re supposed to just blindly trust that the people who we encounter without masks are all fully vaccinated, not anti-vaxxers or Trumpsters who’ve been defying public health orders all along?
I am really not sure about this.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel 100% safer moving around in the world since I got vaccinated. A weight has been lifted off my shoulder and every social media post about yet another vaccinated person puts a huge smile on my face. We are moving in the right direction, but when it comes to losing the mask in public places, I am not ready.
This article in The Atlantic lays out some fundamental concepts about individual choices and the ripple effects they can have on public health. After all, the coronavirus basically started with one human being and then quickly spread around the world. The CDC’s announcement that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks is really putting the responsibility in the hands of the individual, which, I thought we established, does not make sense during a public health crisis (and yes, friends, we’re still in the middle of one, even if things are definitely looking up).
It’s one thing to allow people to meet up with family and friends, who they trust, but to mingle with strangers in public places still feels like a bit of a gamble to me at this time. Especially with new variants emerging.
Just read this post by Omid Scheybani and tell me this couldn’t happen to you.
Yes, the vaccines are great and will most likely protect you from a severe illness, but you can still get – and spread – the coronavirus, and at a time where most kids are not vaccinated and herd immunity is still beyond reach, do you really want to risk this? Does wearing a piece of cloth in front of your face for a little while longer really put such a big damper on your day?
Honestly, I don’t want this virus. Mild course of illness, or not. I haven’t locked myself inside my home for the last 18 months to now walk out of the house with a sign on my forehead that says “come and get me now”.
For full transparency, I don’t think I have been overly paranoid. Since I got vaccinated, I haven’t been wearing masks on my runs or when we’re out walking (as I can keep social distancing as I see fit) and we’ve had a (fully vaccinated) visitor at my house, but I do not see myself losing the mask in public indoor settings anytime soon. You?