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(Kayla Lockwood/Emerald)

In mid-May, the CDC released information stating that if you’re fully vaccinated, you aren’t required to wear a mask in public. As expected, this information was met with joy. Who isn’t tired of breathing in their own carbon dioxide? While it may be tempting to see this as the green light to stop wearing a mask entirely, I suggest that you still wear a mask when in public, if not for yourself then for the minimum wage workers who interact with dozens of people daily. 

Before the new mask suggestion from the CDC and state specific legislature, people were already overly eager to stop wearing their masks. Oregon is a perfect example of a state where much of the population is skeptical about the legitimacy of the vaccine but also ready for things to reopen as usual. 

These new guidelines give skeptical people all the more reason to not wear their masks, even if they aren’t vaccinated. 

Very blatant evidence of this issue is the entire state of Texas, where the governor has prohibited governmental bodies (e.g., schools) from requiring masks. It’s preposterous to act like COVID-19 has just disappeared, especially in Texas where only 35% of the population is vaccinated. Impatient adults are selfishly choosing to put children at risk by rushing anti-mask regulation through.

Oregon isn’t much better though, as only 42% of Oregonians are fully vaccinated, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Seeing these numbers should be enough to deter someone from saying the pandemic is over or that we don’t need to wear masks. 

I’m not the only one who’s worried though; at an Infectious Diseases Society of America press conference about the new CDC guidelines, Dr. Jeffery Duchin, liaison between the CDC and the IDSA, said, “What the CDC did though was sub-optimal and allowed for misimpression that the mask mandates have been lifted.”

I find that the hardest part of all of this is how it affects public trust of science and government. It was hard enough to convince people that we really do need to wear masks and that the government and scientists are not lying. I don’t know if it’s possible to convince those same people that even though the CDC says you don’t have to wear a mask, you definitely still should. 

In the end it comes down to people’s ability to think critically. Inform yourself by using the websites of the CDC, the IDSA, and the WHO to find statistics and trying to understand the basics of the pandemic. If everyone did this rationally, it would be obvious that we should still wear masks, at least a little longer. 

In a matter of time, the pandemic really will be in the rearview, but for now it is still all around us taking lives.

Out of respect for the millions of people who lost their lives to COVID-19, continue to wear a mask until more are vaccinated. And if you’re not vaccinated, make it happen ASAP. If you’re in Lane County there are lots of vaccine resources, so there’s really no reason not to get it.  

A post-pandemic world is possible; everyone has to do their part just a little while longer. Get a vaccine, wear a mask and act like others are worth saving.