Summertime is nearly here and mask mandates are slowly being lifted for millions of people across the United States. This is a brand new era in the coronavirus pandemic that seemed so unattainable one year ago. At the same time, the public, scientists, and health experts have mixed emotions about lifting mask mandates. What will happen for unvaccinated people? Will they still have to wear masks while their vaccinated counterparts get to enjoy more freedoms?
The hesitancy to lift mask mandates exists because many people resisted the COVID-19 vaccine. Some people think microscopic robots will infest their system, while others think that the government is spying on DNA. Vaccination beliefs aside, the reality is that there are risks for unvaccinated people now that mask mandates are gone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities without masks in most situations. Unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks indoors and where social distancing is not possible.
The likelihood of unvaccinated people wearing masks when mask mandates disappear is very low. A survey polled millions of Americans to discover how they felt about socializing in unmasked indoor situations. About 63% of people who do not plan to get the vaccine felt mostly safe with socializing without a mask. Compare that to 36% of people who received one dose of the vaccine. They are more reluctant to socialize without a mask. While this was only one survey, it’s likely that people who don’t plan on getting vaccinated have no fear about entering a new, unmasked society.
What Happens To Unvaccinated People When Mask Mandates Are Gone?
The reason that the CDC and health experts encouraged and incentivized people to get the vaccine was to protect against future, more dangerous COVID-19 variants. Unmasking and returning to a sense of normalcy only increases the risk of exposure for unvaccinated individuals. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated Americans safely participate in gatherings. Ideally, people should congregate in outdoor settings where social distancing is possible. Unvaccinated people who mix with other unvaccinated people should wear masks, otherwise they increase their risk of COVID-19 infection.
Unvaccinated people may be perfectly comfortable without masking up, as there has been an overlap between mask and vaccine skepticism. It’s also possible that unvaccinated individuals happily abide by masking requests when necessary. The CDC’s masking guidance for vaccinated individuals didn’t do any favors, however. A large percentage (34%) of unvaccinated people decided to stop wearing masks, even though the masking guidance didn’t apply to them. Fortunately, no massive increase in COVID-19 cases came as a result.
Workplace Environment For Unvaccinated People
According to many health advisors, people shouldn’t throw away masks just yet. Workers are chomping at the bit to abide by the new no-mask guidelines. However, it remains unclear what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will apply to workplace environments in regards to wearing masks. Until OSHA issues new guidelines, it should be clear that the same masking guidelines are in place for most workers.
The current thought is that the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be over in the United States until it reaches herd immunity. 70-90% of the population would need to be vaccinated to reach that goal. At this point in time, nearly 50% of American adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Even with that vaccination percentage, there are still new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19. Health experts advise that these hospitalizations and deaths are largely among those who are not vaccinated. Even though the numbers are much lower than before, unvaccinated adults continue to experience new infections and deaths every day.
We aren’t back to normal just yet, but things are moving in a positive direction. Continue to monitor the infection rate in your area and wear masks when necessary, especially if you are unvaccinated. Summer is nearly here, so it’s a great time for outdoor gatherings if you are at all worried about the presence of COVID-19.