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It’s become cliché to say we’re in a strange place over the past year. But now we find ourselves, yet again, in a strange place.

The Centers for Disease Control suddenly relaxed its guidelines for mask wearing as a COVID-19 preventative measure, saying those who are fully vaccinated can return to most pre-pandemic activities without wearing a mask.

Or can they?

Some states have opted to retain mask mandates for all. Even in states, like Montana, where the statewide mask mandate has been lifted, there are places — hospitals, doctors’ offices, assisted living facilities, schools, some retail establishments — where all visitors are asked to continue wearing a mask. And then there are the places that have adopted an honor system saying you don’t have to wear a mask — if you’re fully vaccinated.

Have you noticed patrons of commercial establishments eyeing each other suspiciously?

So you’re wearing a mask. Does that mean you’re not vaccinated yet? Are you an anti-vaxxer?

Or maybe you’re not wearing a mask. Are you really vaccinated, or just an anti-vaxxer who’s just taking advantage of the confusion to leave the mask off?

The suspicions are just the latest phase of the nonsensical politicization of mask-wearing. Throughout the pandemic, liberals embraced masks as sign of concern for their fellow humans. Conservatives regarded masks as an infringement of civil rights.

Let’s all take a moment to chill.

The confusion is understandable. Even the experts acknowledge the new guidelines send mixed messages. But on this much they’re clear: Fully vaccinated people have little to fear from the virus. There’s little to no chance they will contract the disease. And if they do, the illness will be mild or asymptomatic, and there’s virtually no chance of spreading the disease.

If you’ve gotten the vaccine — both doses for those that call for it — you can go about life as you did before except in those situations where you are asked to wear a mask. In those cases, be courteous and comply.

And let’s all stop looking at each other as if we’re guilty of something. Just get vaccinated and keep the mask in your pocket. By mid-summer, or fall at the latest, we should have all this behind us.


Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Charles Rinker, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, either leave a comment on the page below or write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.