CDC’s updated indoor mask guidelines feel sudden, overwhelming

On Thursday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to use masks outdoors and in many situations indoors, marking a significant step toward a return to normalcy.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sudden change. Friends I’ve spoken to about the news have also expressed similar feelings.

Other people are super excited about this change. It’s the one we’ve been waiting for: the start of “the after” times. If you’re like me, two things have been helpful to remember.

First, we can do things at our own pace. If I’m not comfortable taking my mask off indoors even when I’m two weeks post-second shot, then I don’t have to.

Plus, indoor masks will still be required in some places. The CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people must still wear masks in healthcare settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, and public transportation. Second, and most importantly, we have science to reassure us.

According to the agency, the update to indoor masking stems from the steady decline of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and the sound data demonstrating the COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness in real-world studies. Knowing this helps dispel some of my fears.

Why aren’t we ready to ditch masks yet?

Speaking of feeling overwhelmed by the new CDC guidelines, Jenna Ryu wrote about the hesitancy some of us experience when it comes to being allowed to go maskless. Experts say the act of stripping off these masks feeling foreign and uneasy for some is a reaction that is not unexpected.

“Behaviors take time to implement and adopt. They also take time to un-adopt,” says Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Remember, it’s not an on and off switch.”

Mike Bordieri, an associate professor of psychology at Murray State University, says it’s “predictable” that some people are hesitant to follow the updated guidelines, and their cautionary behavior can be explained by the psychological finding that humans often “overanalyze risk.”

Karan said the updated guidance may also present a struggle for those who have endured a traumatic experience linked to the pandemic, such as losing a loved one. People who suffer from mental health disorders may also struggle to adjust.

“People have already gone through so many losses and tragedies during the pandemic, so it makes sense that some people are wary of adopting these recent recommendations until they feel it out for themselves,” Karan says.

Gemma Broadhurst
Gemma Broadhurst is a 23-year-old computing student who enjoys extreme ironing, hockey and duck herding. She is kind and entertaining, but can also be very standoffish and a bit evil.She is an Australian Christian. She is currently at college. studying computing. She is allergic to milk. She has a severe phobia of chickens

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