COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to decline, and states with mask mandates have started lifting regulations. Some states continue to require face masks in indoor settings, but they lifted outdoor mask mandates. Other states have not had mask regulations for quite some time, which may not fall under the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because individual state masking policies may go against the CDC’s recommendations, some people may not know what to do.
Recent data from the CDC shows that as of February 16th, 2022, daily new COVID-19 cases in the United States dropped 43% compared to the previous week. Infectious disease specialists confirmed the decrease in cases and remain optimistic about the situation. For this reason, the specialists understand the rationale behind the lifting of mask mandates. Even though states drop mask guidances, the CDC has not adjusted their own recommendations. The recommendation is still that anyone over two years old and not “up to date” on COVID-19 vaccines should continue to wear masks in indoor public places.
Should You Still Wear A Mask If Your State Lifted Regulations?
This is a decision that only you, and you alone, can make. Some people may not have difficulty making the decision to discard the mask and leave it in the past. Others may grapple with the fear of removing the mask in a public setting, especially an indoor one. The risks and benefits are not merely yours; rather, they also belong to the people around you. For example, you may be perfectly fine, healthy, and vaccinated, and not wearing a mask may be a risk you can take. You have to think about others in your immediate circle, though.
If you regularly interact or live with someone who is immunocompromised, it may be a good idea to continue to wear a mask in public. Although the newer COVID-19 variants may not be as lethal to your health, they are still quite contagious. That means that you may be fine if you contract COVID-19, but the immunocompromised person you see may not be so lucky. Additionally, you may want to wear a mask if you regularly spend time with people who did not get the COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot. Data reports indicate that unvaccinated people have an extraordinary risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Pay Attention To Infection Rates
Regardless of your state’s mask mandates, it may be wise to wear a mask in public if infection rates are high where you live. Although the CDC encouraged masking indoors during the omicron wave, the decision seemed to be very individual. The decision to wear a mask is personal, but if you want to be safe and worry-free, put the mask on and don’t worry about what people think.
What Type Of Mask Should You Wear?
If you want to continue wearing masks in public areas, a well-fitting, high quality mask is your best bet. A bandana or thin cloth offers very little protection and many researchers found that they were subpar compared to masks with three or more cloth layers. KN95, N95, and KF94 masks offer the best protection around. When you buy them, make sure that they are not counterfeit, as some may only have two layers. If you don’t want to purchase an N95 mask, you can add a filter to cloth masks, or simply wear a surgical mask under your cloth mask for extra protection.
What If You Have The Sniffles?
COVID-19 is not the only virus floating around the general public. People are regularly exposed to flu variants and strains of the common cold, which can be very harmful to certain people. The flu, for example, kills over 30,000 Americans in a typical season, and most of the deaths are older adults or immunocompromised people. Flus and colds are likely transmitted the same was as COVID-19, so if you feel a little sick, you may be shedding the virus into the air. This causes you to infect other people, so if you feel sick wear a mask if you must go out, otherwise stay home.