Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people don’t need to cover their faces or show social distancing when outside. Many people celebrated the news, while others were cautious. Vaccinated people who have decided to mask outdoors tell Intelligencer that they’ve made a considered choice in a time of uncertainty. They aren’t anti-science — after all, they’ve gotten their shots — and they know the virus is still out there, still a threat to people they love.
If mask-wearing seems persistent in people who’ve been vaccinated, perhaps there are other questions worth asking about how to rebuild trust in institutions and each other in an unequal and polarized country. When society breaks down, all that’s left are individuals and their decisions.
The pandemic is still ongoing and the CDC has not provided any guidance for parents of children who have not been vaccinated. People with disabilities worry that others’ unscrupulous behaviour could put them at risk. Some said that there are still many unknowns about this virus. Critics point to the scientific evidence in spite of the caution they have expressed. Even outside, there is a low risk of getting the virus if a person has been vaccinated. Even if they do contract the virus, which is very rare, it can be mild to severe.
But this conflict isn’t just about science. After a year of suffering, the normal becomes a fantasy. The trauma is real. Vice News pointed out that people are unable to live normal lives after a year of death. “are going to have some feelings around transitioning back to a less cautious way of life.”Before Ben Shapiro, the self-proclaimed Ben Shapiro swings into to yell “facts don’t care about your feelings,”Perhaps they should look at the context and consider some additional facts. While most Americans have adhered to masking regulations in general, anti-maskers are aggressive, loud, and potentially deadly. They have allies in local and federal governments, as well as, for a while at least, in the Trump administration. Caught between human threats and the CDC’s ever-shifting advice, people are losing confidence. Public institutions are not the only thing that is at risk, but the public as a whole.
These interviews were edited to ensure clarity and length.
My partner and I share a home with our brother. It was something we discussed and neither of us felt comfortable so it became a household decision. So it’s about respecting each other, and the people I live with, in how we go outside right now. That’s one aspect of it. And another one is probably something you’ve heard on Twitter. I am concerned that people who don’t wear masks, who don’t get vaccines, are just going to lie and say, like, “I’m vaccinated now and I don’t wear a mask.” So I’m just concerned about other people’s behavior.
The CDC seems to be inconsistent in their public-health recommendations or mandates. They were, for example, at the start of the pandemic. “No masks, because they’re for medical professionals.” Then it’s, “Mask up.”It all seems very poor management. It’s distrust of the general public and distrust in institutions like the CDC and a general consensus in the household.
I’m training to be a scientist. I just finished grad school and that’s what my career is. While I do understand the literature, wearing masks is something I consider a personal decision. Even if you’re vaccinated, and yes, it’s safe, wearing a mask is also safer. I’m not risking anything by wearing a mask.
You can’t trust people. I have been out some in the last — what is it now? — 16 months. But so many people are not wearing masks because, you know, it’s a hoax or whatever. The fact is that it isn’t. And if you’ve got a chronic condition, you don’t take these things lightly. It’s your life.
When I first got sick in 1978, they did this really awesome job of keeping me alive until they could actually do everything else, so I didn’t have to go on dialysis until they found me a good kidney. I’m not going to mess it up. There’s people on community boards who are saying, “Oh, it’s no big deal, it’s only 0.4 percent of the population who dies.” But if that’s you, that kind of matters, right? Or if it’s your husband or if it’s your mother. Numbers don’t mean anything when it’s real, and this is real.
I trust the CDC. I wish they had handled this differently because I don’t think they took into account just how many people are not doing what they’re supposed to. You’re going to have unvaxxed people who go, “Oh, it’s okay if the CDC said it’s okay,” leaving out the whole point, that the CDC said it’s okay if you’ve gotten both your shots.
I got my first shot at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. They were conducting research on transplant-recipient antibodies. Everyone who participated was given a card with five blood tabs per week. It ended up being for a total of eight weeks so they could measure and see if there are any antibodies in immunosuppressed patients because our immune systems don’t work well. I don’t know the results from the study I was doing, but Johns Hopkins released one and said it looks like maybe 17 percent of people who are on anti-rejection are getting some kind of antibodies. We don’t know if I have antibodies. We are not taking any chance. That’s what it comes down to.
The growing number of pundits and elected officials as well as Wall Street chyrons are all working together to eliminate the use of masks. “open up”I have never once looked at the structural problems in the country’s health-care system. Because even if I have the flu or the common cold, I will continue to wear a mask. I would need to pay out-of-pocket for healthcare. Although I have the J&J vaccine, I cannot afford to be sick with any common illness. I find out how much it will cost me and how I can pay for it after I’m already in the hospital.
It is not about realizing the benefit of normal mask wear to vulnerable individuals of the population, such as myself, but it comes down to the spread of disease through COVID-19. It has nothing to do the moralizing effect I have towards others for wearing a masque (in the thinking about the reopen discourse). It is all about my health and the precarity of my healthcare, as well as that of those in my home and my local community. While it was obvious to everyone that their recklessness in the midst of the pandemic was exposing the community to greater risks, suddenly the pundit group seems to have forgotten.
Is it only our responsibility to prevent the spread COVID-19 from spreading? Is mask-wearing acceptable as a social strategy? This would help to avoid any flu epidemics or other illnesses that could be spread to vulnerable populations. This seems ridiculous to me. I don’t even know what the rush to do. “reopen.” I will absolutely wear a mask in public and around elderly members of my family, and it has nothing to do with enjoying some supposedly moral high ground — 600,000 people died and we learned nothing.
Both my husband and I have been vaccinated. My 5-year-old can’t be yet. Because I live in an area with low vaccine uptake, I believe most of the people who are not wearing masks will lie. This is based on the behavior of the region during the pandemic.
Anti-vaccine advocates don’t feel the need to wear masks. No one will be able to tell them they are violating the rules. This makes me more cautious. The asymptomatic-transmission possibility through me to my child and the lack of sufficient data on possible long-term impacts in kids combine to make me feel like my child is considerably less safe after this. While the asymptomatic-transmission risk is small compared to if I were unvaccinated, it is still present (according to epidemiologists I saw critique this decision, protection from asymptomatic transmission is roughly 70–80 percent with the least-threatening variant) and a gamble I am not comfortable making. There are other viruses that can cause long-term complications from childhood infections. Unfortunately, we don’t know enough about this to be able to assess the risk.
I find it very frustrating that today’s general statements by authorities seem to come from an attitude of trusting anti-vaccine people. Instead of having collective public health policy protection, people with children or those who have immune system problems that make vaccines less efficient have to try to protect their own lives without the benefit collective actions.
There are two reasons I’m still masking, a substantive reason and a reason that is the signal it sends. For me, the signal it sends is much more important because if you see someone on the street, you don’t know if they’re vaccinated or not. Unfortunately, I have lost faith in my fellow Americans over the past year and a quarter to do the right thing in the public’s best interest. What I want to do, even though I’m fully vaccinated, is to send that message that I’m taking this seriously until it is completely over. The other reason that I’m taking it seriously is substantive because every little bit helps. Even though vaccination is highly effective and large numbers are important, it’s also important to remember that small numbers can make a difference. Every little bit of edge that we can get to beat back the pandemic, even if it’s an additional one percent, is, I think, meaningful. This is why I want to do my bit to make a difference.
I run a Brazilian Jujitsu Studio. If you could design an activity to spread COVID, you would design this, because it’s a bunch of people indoors grappling with each other, wrestling at really close quarters. If they have proof of vaccination, I will give them free merchandise and a credit towards their membership. I can understand why people argue that. “Hey, we have to make clear to people the benefits of vaccination.” But I think it’s pretty unpredictable sometimes, what benefits are going to speak to what people, because the Ohio lottery would not incentivize me at all. To get people to get vaccinated, we should provide as many incentives as we can. I just think the mask is an additional layer of protection that we shouldn’t discard at this stage.
My age group was likely to be the majority that stayed home throughout the year. Because I was living with my sister, a pregnant lady, there were no plane or train rides. For me, having a lot of family overseas gave me a different lens to the virus, because while we were able to go to Target and wherever here, I had family members with curfews in other countries that some days couldn’t leave their house. There were huge restrictions. Over a dozen people were killed in the pandemic. And then the deeper we got into the pandemic, I talked to friends here in the U.S. that didn’t even know someone who had died. They believed in the virus but had not suffered any losses. It was a large inconvenience for them while others are suffering. So I think for me it’s all because of my own experiences.
What’s difficult for me to understand is that these experiences aren’t just behind closed doors. These stories are commonplace. We’ve heard stories all year from doctors, the awful stories of people not believing in the virus even until their last breath. And so I just don’t get how people can just celebrate an announcement like that, knowing that it will lead to deaths. I’m not going to be a part of anyone getting sick.
My initial stance was confusing to my husband. I think because it’s the first time for a CDC directive to come out and for me to not immediately be on board. Particularly with this one. It’s liberating, right? In quotations: “Get back to normal.”Although that is a horrible phrase, it’s true. There is no way to go back to pre-COVID. I’m thinking about the extra factors where we have children in our family that are unvaccinated. There’s still a small percentage of chance that people can get sick even if they’re vaccinated or carriers and so forth. And I think he hadn’t thought of those things initially. After we had a discussion about the thought process, “Yeah, I think if we’re around people and we can’t confirm that everyone’s been vaccinated and that it’s safe, we just will continue wearing masks,”He also agreed with it in the end.
One of my partners has celiac disease, and I have celiac. There are many people in this situation. I’m able to be vaccinated. I know people who can’t get vaccinated. Being a disability-rights activist helps me make informed decisions due to the empathy that it brings. These conversations seem to be lacking empathy. American individualism. “well I got mine”’ seems to really be dominating a lot of the conversations about COVID in general. It’s very strong in our society.
After I was diagnosed with disability, I needed to advocate for myself. And that kind of led itself into being a disability-rights activist in general, and then the more that you’re involved in that community, the more you understand how many different circumstances people can find themselves in and how many different reasons there are why people can’t get vaccinated or even if they’re vaccinated, maybe the vaccine will not necessarily work as well for them because their immune systems aren’t as sturdy. We don’t know with me, because I have an autoimmune disorder. There’s not a lot of good research into how those two things work together. So, how is my immune system performing today? I don’t know.
I live in a very blue area right now, but I grew up in northeast Pennsylvania and it’s trending bluer now as people move around. But the country where I’m from was absolutely solid red during the ’90s. Some of the smartest people I know, people with doctorates, people who know statistics, have been taken in by some of the propaganda that we’ve seen in this country over the last four years. A lot of my distrust in people comes from being aware of where I grew up and how it has changed. “Got mine, look out for yourself and maybe your own, but, like, everybody else can get effed.”
I don’t know that I can trust people in general. Individuals, sure, but people as a homogenous group, I don’t think I can. First, and most importantly, it comes down to this: Does that trust for others make the difference in the lives of my partner or my child? It is obvious that the answer to this question is no. It can’t be otherwise. My trust in the public is not worth my partner’s heart condition, my daughter’s asthma or the lives of vulnerable people in my synagogue.
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