We stopped wearing masks entirely. Not in the supermarket, not in church, not in a packed bar on St. Patrick’s Day. Steve still has to wear one on the train into New York City, but that’s about it. Sometimes it feels weird, but I feel like I should enjoy this window of freedom, while my immunity is at peak levels and there’s little spread.
What’s your current mask policy?
32 thoughts on “Community: What’s Your Mask Policy?”
Great question. Two years ago, the people we knew who got COVID got really sick. We and most of our friends and family were very cautious (by Texas standards), minimizing indoor contact and masking during it. Our one big gamble was socializing outdoors without masks; the science bore that gamble out, but I think we were lucky, not smart. Once things opened up more, I found that I really hated wearing a mask to do the things I used to enjoy, like shopping at used bookstores or hitting the pinball arcade. So I quit doing them, and mostly quit going out casually, which has not been good for my mental health or my liver.
Now, we and nearly everyone we know is vaccinated, and the holidays saw a lot of our cautious friends contract COVID, with no (or minimal) problems. The numbers in Austin have plummeted like a popped balloon. Since late February, I’ve quit masking unless required by policy. Our usual pews in church are in the masked section, so I wear one there, and my favorite used bookstores still require masks, so I don’t go recreationally. I’m much less willing to go along with mask theater (like walking to tables in restaurants, then unmasking when we sit down), but I’ll still put one on for the pharmacy.
When I wear a mask, I grab an N-95, as I don’t think there’s much point in any other kind. At this point, when I see people wearing cloth masks in public, I’m afraid I judge them about like I did people wearing bandannas for masks in April 2020.
I think we in the SE kind of have to expect a summer 2022 wave–maybe even late spring 2022?
It’s getting to be the pattern.
It may kind of fizzle, though, in terms of severity.
I was just reading today that Jen Psaki got COVID in the fall, got boosted, and then got COVID again recently.
It doesn’t sound like she’s sick.
I wear a mask if indoors and in a crowd (church, store, theater, gym). If indoors and not crowded, I still wear one if anyone else is.
I mask indoors for shopping. Also less willing to mask in the brief interval where I’m officially not eating at a restaurant (but, I’ve only eaten in restaurant/inside 3 times since December, but plan to do more).
Participated in a board meeting for a small organization, and did not mask (with 5 or so other people). Have largely stopped masking when I volunteer at that organization (uncrowded space, mostly the same people).
Masks are not required at school now, but kiddo still masks and says that about 75% still mask in his school. Some students staged a walk out over the non-mandate of masks in the district.
With the BA2 worries, I might mask in indoor spaces where I’m not eating for the forseeable future, but am less likely to go to those spaces, too. I don’t care about movies, but would like to browse shop & go to museums & live theater. At some point, those might be places I want to go enough, and want to go unmasked.
Oh, and will be hosting friends for the first time (myself — spouse has hosted his poker friends a couple of times already).
And, my kids seem to have become very comfortable with masking
I have a rational concern about my parents, who I see regularly and who are in their 80s, but, I do think part of my behavior isn’t driven by clear assessment of my personal risk (I am not someone who use to obsess about exposure to communicable disease, before COVID).
I have similar concerns about mine. If I’ve been out and about before a visit (as when I returned from a trip to Colorado), we meet outdoors like we did during lockdown. If I haven’t been anywhere but church, we meet indoors without masks. I worry that this method may be a bit sloppy, however.
I use to invest a great deal of energy in not being “sloppy”. But, in fact, I think what we know is variable enough that there is no way to accurately make the best personal risk assessments. So I’ve accepted sloppiness, on the grounds that what makes me feel comfortable is what I’ll do.
That view also lets me make peace with the lack of mandates (say, in our schools). But, I do want to have a plan for changes, and, one, for me, is re-instituting masking if cases start going up again, as they are in Europe.
Now one question is, now that you aren’t masking at all, are you still carrying a mask? Or have you reached the stage where you don’t carry one at all?
I carry a mask always, because I want to be prepared to mask if someone wants me to, even in situations where I might chose not to mask.
bj said, “Now one question is, now that you aren’t masking at all, are you still carrying a mask? Or have you reached the stage where you don’t carry one at all?”
We keep some surgical masks in the car.
One of my goals is not buying any more masks. (We still have a bunch.)
I mask everywhere indoors if there are other people about–I live with immunosuppressed people and we’re pretty careful. Our community cases are ticking upward, and I know more people who’ve gotten COVID since things started to relax….and wearing a mask is such an easy thing for me to do.
My part of NJ still has a fairly high rate of mask wearing, so I wear one almost sympathetically when indoors where other people are as well. I don’t think this makes any difference to my risk of infection, especially since we are completely comfortable with indoor dining. But it seems occasionally to make other people around me more comfortable so I don’t mind. I try to always be with the majority wherever I am.
What is protecting my family is the vaccine. We have a 4 year old with a 5th birthday coming up. Once he’s vaccinated our whole family will and at that time we will probably give up masking entirely, except for the train or anywhere else it continues to be mandated.
MichaelB said, “We have a 4 year old with a 5th birthday coming up. Once he’s vaccinated our whole family will and at that time we will probably give up masking entirely, except for the train or anywhere else it continues to be mandated.”
Some bad news:
“Pfizer and BioNTech’s two-dose Covid vaccine provided very little protection for children aged 5 to 11 during the wave of omicron infection in New York, according to a study published Monday.
The New York State Department of Health found that the effectiveness of Pfizer’s vaccine against Covid infection plummeted from 68% to 12% for kids in that age group during the omicron surge from Dec. 13 through Jan 24. Protection against hospitalization dropped from 100% to 48% during the same period.”
Yeah, I saw that study . I’ll take 48% protection against hospitalization if that’s the best that’s on offer. Far from ideal, but substantial protection nonetheless. I suspect that kids will ultimately need a booster to really retain the high effectiveness.
I haven’t worn a mask unless I have to for a while. At this point, that means masking at doctors’ offices or when I travel. My husband still masks on occasion in public spaces, but the rest of us don’t. Locally, maybe 10% of people are masking at the grocery store right now. I’ve kind of lost track of all the ebbs and flows of our family’s COVID policy, but we started living pretty normally as soon as the 4 vaccine-eligible members of the family were vaccinated in spring 2021. We didn’t wait for our youngest to become eligible to go back to normal. We did hit pause on some outings during surges, though.
We parents are triple-vaccinated and all 3 kids are now double-vaccinated (our youngest with 2+ month spacing between doses to maximize effectiveness). None of us have ever gotten COVID, despite lots of testing and living very normally.
I’m really looking forward to being able to travel cross country and not have to mask my hyper ASD 9-year-old for 10-12 hours as it’s been kind of an ordeal the last two times we did it.
My husband’s department is in the process of getting back to normal departmental get-togethers. We’re going to have potlucks and game nights.
I do have a few concerns:
1. Has the supply of therapeutics caught up with demand? Are the therapeutics being used enough and appropriately?
2. Are we ready for a summer 2022 or winter 2022-2023 surge?
3. When are they going to update the freaking vaccine? The mRNA vaccine is modeled on a 2-year-old version of the virus, and as I mentioned upthread, it’s now only 12% effective in kids 5-11.
I know there’s talk of a 4th (!) shot, but I’m one of the people who wouldn’t get a 4th shot if it’s the same vaccine.
Not to be a thread hog, but I just wanted to mention that both of my teens had worse acne during times when they had to mask a lot.
Maskne is a thing, definitely.
Our college dropped the mask mandate recently. However, I will continue to wear mine in class while teaching for now. I need to poll my students privately to ask them about their comfort levels, plus I want to set a example that it’s ok to wear a mask. And I really do not mind wearing it, despite the maskne. I’m also worrying a bit about waning immunity. I am hoping by late April/early May I will get another booster.
I keep a mask around pretty much wherever I go. I have been wearing mine on a clip-on chain/eyeglasses holder for a while anyway.
A friend of mine mentioned how all 3 of his kids (ages 8 to 15) got sick (non-COVID; they were tested) once they dropped masks in his school district. The masks were obviously protecting everyone from the other viruses and creeping crud creeping around. I have to admit, I am really tired of the rhetoric that masks do not work. Of course they do. They’re just not 100%, which is not the same as them not working.
Yes, hearing of a non-covid (tested negative) bug going around the schools since mandate was dropped here, too.
I am still wearing masks (N95/KN95) in public. Both to protect myself against the unvaxxed and also out of respect for my fellow human beings. I have to say that I am in full agreement with this:
I have to admit, I am really tired of the rhetoric that masks do not work. Of course they do. They’re just not 100%, which is not the same as them not working.
To me, that statement has been added to my list of “conversation enders.” That is, statements like “anthropomorphic global warming is a hoax” or “the 2020 election was stolen” or “the Earth is flat.” Statements that cause me to conclude that the person saying them is an ignorant fool and that their opinions aren’t worth considering outside very specialized areas of expertise. That is, I will trust that an HVAC technician (for instance) who says this possibly knows something about air conditioning but I will pretty much write off anything else that they say or think. Of course masks work. “Masks aren’t perfect” isn’t the same thing as “masks don’t work.”
The other thing that I find tedious is people complaining about how difficult or unpleasant it is to wear a mask. Wearing a mask is easy. There are edge cases that we should accommodate (such as small children, especially in schools, people in speech therapy, people with severe sensory issues) but by and large wearing a mask every day isn’t any more of a burden then wearing pants every day. I may not like to wear pants, but social norms demand that I do so in public and I’ve managed to deal with that and normal human adults should be able to do the same. (Actually, I don’t mind wearing pants but this is my go-to example to illustrate to mask-whiners just how silly they were being.)
Anyway, besides reducing the number of times I take a direct hit from covid masks have had other benefits for me. I have not had a cold or the flu in over two years. As far as I am concerned, I would be perfectly happy to continue masking in public during flu season (as they do in East Asia) for the rest of my life.
Masks have also been quite useful in concealing my contempt for the Trumpy morons around me when they say stupid things like “masks don’t work” or “Biden didn’t win the election.” I am not looking forward to having to relearn how to control my facial expressions around such idiocy.
“The other thing that I find tedious is people complaining about how difficult or unpleasant it is to wear a mask”
I agree that the difficulty can easily become overblown and not in line with other demands society makes of us. But some people do find masking difficult. I’d place it as wearing high heels for me, something that changes and limits my experience. Now there should be no mandate for heels (though there has been), but masks are a public good.
Actually, I don’t mind wearing pants but this is my go-to example to illustrate to mask-whiners just how silly they were being.
Well, that did it! I had no idea my mild annoyance was silly until I read this. After all, I am currently wearing pants!
Ben, you yourself say you find it a “mild annoyance.” That’s not what Jay was talking about.
My go-to example is wearing a bra. I would 100 times rather wear a mask than a bra. But, needs must….
(Also, as an FYI, my daughter just got COVID again. She says it was mild, though, over by the time she got her test results back. Her bf is in town and they’ve been going out to restaurants every night, so my guess is that’s where she got it.)
You don’t need pants if your mask is covering enough.
Wendy wrote, “Also, as an FYI, my daughter just got COVID again. She says it was mild, though, over by the time she got her test results back. ”
This is getting ridiculous.
After all, I am currently wearing pants!
Well, you shouldn’t have to! After all, “your body, your choice,” as the mask-whiners have been yelling for the past couple of years. And the rationale for pants mandates is much thinner than that for mask mandates.
I am *not* wearing hard pants and have limited my large number of shoes to the comfy, fake shearling lined merills that do allow my toes to be free. My tolerance has gone way down. One kiddo now wears pajamas about 80% of the time. OK, he does mostly wear hard pants to school.
I opt out of gatherings with required masks. If I can’t understand what other people are saying, because I can’t see their lips, and they can’t understand me, it’s pointless.
Others are welcome to wear masks.
I’ve been going to stores and restaurants. Haven’t caught the Dread Disease yet.
Well, not really by this criterion, since you won’t able to understand what they say. Ate at a restaurant today; workers were all masked, but only a few patrons (when they weren’t eating, which is always a tough judgment call).
Most were masked in the garden shop
“I opt out of gatherings with required masks. If I can’t understand what other people are saying, because I can’t see their lips, and they can’t understand me, it’s pointless. Others are welcome to wear masks.
I’ve been going to stores and restaurants.”
I have a little bit of hearing loss in one ear (ear infection with punctured ear drum in my late 20s) and I’ve often found it difficult to understand masked people in public places.
I’m sure we’ve all been repeatedly through that routine where a service worker pulls down their mask to be understood or peeks around the plexiglass barrier…
“I’m sure we’ve all been repeatedly through that routine where a service worker pulls down their mask to be understood or peeks around the plexiglass barrier…”
For a while during the 2020-2021 school year my daughter’s school had everyone in masks with plexiglass shields on three sides of the desks. She reported that every time a student spoke, they had to stand up next to their desk to avoid the shield, and yell in order to be heard.
We still have to wear masks in the classroom (state college), and I teach in an auditorium with about 15 rows designed for 150+. Since they have to be spaced, every other row, every third seat, the “covid max” fits my 33 students or so. Some of them are way in the back and it’s hard to hear, though I have gotten better at hearing and it’s usually manageable. I also use a KN95 that is easy to speak through, and for an hour or 1.5 hours at a time it is not onerous. The conversation is not quite as good as in my regular classroom, but the level of participation is about the same, with a half dozen always ready to talk and some others willing to. My sense is both faculty and students are ready to take off the masks, but the agreement between the union and the admin for the semester called for masks, and the admin has not been responsive to the union’s requests to change that (while very subtly implying that it is the union’s decision and not theirs).
Elsewhere, as the omicron surge passed a few weeks ago, I have stopped masking in stores and restaurants (except our tiny food coop, which still has a mask requirement), but nothing is too crowded around here. I masked in Walgreens the other day because I saw a couple of people masking as I headed in; no reason to stress out someone who is at the pharmacy. I’ll mask when I go to campus tonight for a talk (which is required) and probably when I go to the high school play next week.
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