That seems to be the question now, doesn’t it?
Because so many Americans are on their way to being fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control have recently decided that the public mask mandate may no longer be necessary. Of course, there is a caveat. The recommendation is that if you are fully vaccinated, you should not feel as if a mask is needed when out in public. However, if you have not received the COVID vaccine, the recommendation is to continue wearing a mask in public.
Being one of those who was lucky enough to have been vaccinated early this year (2nd dose on February 4), I definitely fall into the group of folks who should not feel obligated to continue wearing my mask. But it’s a Superman mask… so it’s cool.
Prior to the new CDC recommendation, the question has often been posed on social media: “Once the mask mandate is lifted, will you continue wearing a mask anyway?”
To this, I have basically said that, yes, I will continue wearing a mask.
Now, I know that a lot of people out there who embraced the mask early on in the pandemic were doing so out of a concern for others. The thought being that if I wear my mask and happen to be carrying coronavirus, then I’m less likely to pass it on to anyone around me, especially if they are also wearing a mask. That’s a very non-selfish reason for people to wear their masks.
But now that we’re more than a year into this thing, my reasons have transformed into something a little more self-centered. Sorry… that’s just how it is.
The thing is, I never picked up COVID from anyone during this pandemic. But I also never developed so much as a cold. I never got the flu in the last 18 months. And I usually get something at least once a year that runs its course and inevitably turns into chronic bronchitis that sticks around for approximately 23 years. But that didn’t happen in 2020 and it has yet to happen in 2021. The only difference in my life has been the mask I have worn every time I’ve gone out in public.
See? Self-centered reasoning.
But now it feels like it’s all about appearance. I visited a convenience store today which had previously required masks of all customers coming inside. I noticed a new sign on the door that leaves it up to the individual now. Following the CDC’s new recommendations, the sign suggests that if one is fully vaccinated, they should feel free to enter without a mask. However, the sign also tells people who have not received the vaccine to please continue wearing a mask.
Why is this about appearance? Because if you enter a public space without a mask, people can safely assume that you have received the vaccine. But if you continue wearing a mask, they’ll assume you haven’t been vaccinated.
But then there are those who will see you without the mask and wonder if you’re just an anti-mask person who may have been caught on viral video for complaining about management trying to force you to wear a face covering. So if I don’t wear a mask in the store, what if people around me assume I’m just some jerk who refuses to wear a mask? Because there’s a good chance if I’ve refused to wear a mask for the last year, I’m likely to fall into the category of those who have refused to believe COVID even exists and therefore would also, most likely, be an anti-vaxxer, too.
So do I wear a mask and continue protecting myself from more than just COVID-19? Or do I remove my mask to show others that I’m fully vaccinated and I feel safe in public?
Here’s where I’m at… I will continue wearing my mask whenever I’m in an indoor public space, especially where I will likely find myself in close quarters with people I don’t know or trust to have received the vaccine. But if I’m outside, unless I’m in a crowd (which I tend to avoid anyway), I’ll go without the mask. And if there’s ever a situation when I leave my mask in the car or accidentally leave it at home, I’m not gonna feel guilty about it.
But more often than not, if you catch me at the grocery store wearing my Superman mask, be aware that I am fully vaccinated. I’ve just decided I don’t mind keeping the mask on if I can avoid even a little bit of the common cold.