With the CDC issuing another set of de-masking guidelines, there are a few groups of people who are upset that they are being lifted too soon, in their opinion. Other places have tossed the “Masks Required” signs into the garbage – if they ever had them up in the first place. There’s ambiguity in the new guidelines, and each state is likely to be in a different situation where following those guidelines isn’t the best option.
Frankly, it seems to me like it ought to be easy to come up with a set that should work everywhere.
Health Care Facilities: REQUIRED. Duh. Hospitals, nursing homes, dentists, even eye doctors – you’re going to be around people who aren’t in the best of health. Do you want to catch whatever it is they’ve got? Why even walk in to a place with lots of sick people WITHOUT a mask?
Mass Transit: Required. Buses, trains, planes. Tightly confined with strangers in poorly ventilated places. You don’t even want to smell them, do you.
Restaurants: Masks on, unless and until you are seated and actually shoving food into your face. Individual restaurants may enforce seating distance and capacity rules.
Retail: Individual stores and malls may at management’s discretion require masks – provided a “Masks Required” sign is posted clearly at all entrances. Management can kick out people who refuse to abide by the clearly posted requirement. People can wear a mask at a shop without the posted requirement anyway, or just not go there. Staff and employees shall be free to mask up at their own discretion – without penalty from management.
Small Entertainment Venues: Bars, nightclubs, and the like. Tough call. You don’t want to keep them closed indefinitely, but you’re going to have a lot of people in a confined space, eating, drinking, talking loudly, and spreading germs. It would be great if we could have them open only for people who can prove they’ve been fully vaccinated, but I don’t think that will fly. Go at your own risk.
Large Entertainment Venues: Theaters, casinos, sports arenas (including outdoor ones). Masks required, plus limited and restricted seating. Special areas may be set aside for people who can prove they’ve been fully vaccinated, where they can go without masks. State governments can set capacity and distancing restrictions based on local conditions.
Schools and Classrooms: Masks required, but no seating distance restrictions. I think we’re at the point where we can do that.
Outdoors: NO MASKS! Go outside! Get some fresh air!
We’re also at the point (I believe) where we can change the way we report the numbers on COVID. We should do it on a state-by-state basis, and report the percentage of the entire state’s population (regardless of age) that has been fully vaccinated, and a per capita rate (something like cases per 10,000) of people currently hospitalized for COVID. We’re never going to eliminate it; we just need to get it down to where we can manage it.
Speaking of managing it, do we really need to keep doing contact tracing and regular testing? Especially once a state has enough people vaccinated? Yes, you can still get COVID even if you’ve been vaccinated. But in those cases, it’s a day home from work instead of a week in the ICU. Yes, yes, yes, there are going to be exceptions. But they will be too darned few to panic over.
As some have said, the new guidelines are the Beginning of the End with COVID. But even though I’ve got the full Moderna treatment, I’m going to keep masking up for a few more weeks. Like Orpheus, I’m out in the sunlight. But I’m going to walk a few more yards before I turn around to check if Eurydice is following me.