Masks... Are You Feeling Safe?

The Midweek Question

After more than a year, the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, stretching the oft-described “unprecedented times” and “new normal” to yet another section of the calendar. While undoubtedly grief and loss continue to strike too many families, there are more and more emerging sparks of hope, especially in the United States. In other parts of the world, especially India and maybe other countries to come, the darkness and desperation that COVID wreaks seems to be growing unchecked. It’s a reminder of the inequities that exist in global health and resources.

Currently, more than half of all U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine dose. And case rates are dropping in many places. This progress has led to a shift in safety guidelines. Yesterday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors in most situations except for large gatherings. Activities such as outdoor exercise, small outdoor gatherings, dining outside with friends from multiple households are now acceptable without a mask to the fully vaccinated. 

In this pandemic we have seen that the “best science” is often a moving target. The more researchers learn about this maddeningly elusive disease, and the more they see how remarkable these vaccines are, the more those guidelines will likely shift again. 

But I have also heard from people confusion and fear. How much risk are we willing to take? Are we clear about where and how to maintain our safety measures? When will we feel comfortable, recognizing that the answer to that question is invariably personal and shaped by one’s own experiences. 

So the midweek question today is a variety of versions of “are you feeling safe?” 

What is your level of comfort? Are you vaccinated? Are you gathering with others? Have you flown on an airplane? Are you planning a trip? Are you ready to ditch the mask or hold on to it for longer? 

Thanks as always for adding your voice and engaging with the Steady community.

Some ground rules for these Wednesday chats (and also the comments sections on other posts):

  • I want a space where people feel safe to express their views, as long as they are offered in good faith.

  • I want a space where ideas can be challenged, especially my own.

  • I want debate. But I want it to be civil.

  • I want people to come here with open minds, and open hearts.

  • I want this to be fun as well as serious.

We can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

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