Slipping the Mask

Yesterday’s big news: The CDC now says people who’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 can go without masks indoors and outdoors, and no longer need to practice social distancing.

Also yesterday: Fox News doctor (a breast imaging specialist) tells unvaccinated viewers they can stop wearing masks because, essentially, the CDC would not have relaxed its guidelines for vaccinated people if the general population, including the unvaccinated, had not essentially achieved herd immunity.

Again, yesterday, from the Fox News affiliate in Las Vegas:  “The Wynn became the first casino to publicly announce it was lifting its mask mandate for fully vaccinated guests. The resort will use an honor system and trust guests to take the appropriate precautions based on their vaccine status.”

And this, issued yesterday:


Surfing social media yesterday and again this morning, I see anecdotal reports of people unmasking in stores, justifying their actions on yesterday’s CDC announcement. If Las Vegas casinos and military bases are already unmasking, how long before the neighborhood Safeways and Walgreens take down their “masks required” signs? I’m tempted to make a Costco run this morning just to see what’s happening at one major chain that has, for the past 14 months, strictly enforced a masking and social distancing policy. My guess? If it still is, it won’t for long.

Honestly, I expected this. We’re nowhere near herd immunity, despite what Fox News “doctors” are telling the stupids, but with the number of fully vaccinated people today we can probably keep American society and industry functioning if everyone else dies of covid, so why not?

Well, one “why not” are the codifications of “don’t ask” policies in Las Vegas casinos and the military, per the articles I cited above.

  • “The resort will use an honor system and trust guests to take the appropriate precautions based on their vaccine status.”
  • “Commanders and supervisors should not ask about an employee’s vaccination status.”

This “don’t ask” shit comes straight from the anti-vaccination-passport wing of American politics, which comes straight from the “plandemic-covidhoax-antivaxx” fever swamps. I, for one, will not go on an airline flight, take a cruise, or visit an amusement park unless the operators are able to insist passengers and guests have verifiable vaccination passports, which it looks like we’ll never get because politicians are afraid of pissing off the know-nothings. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Will unvaccinated anti-maskers take advantage of yesterday’s CDC announcement? You bet they will. They already are. But as I observed above, enough of us are vaccinated now to ensure the human race, at least in this country, will survive covid, so fuck ’em.

Other thought-provoking reactions, mostly from Twitter:

  • Not sure what people think the CDC should do here. Hope nobody thinks they should lie and say the science requires that vaccinated people still need to wear masks. So what then? Say “Vaxxed don’t need masks but people are asses so we all have to keep wearing them all the time?”
  • We aren’t going to get to 80% vaccinated in many places. That’s the rub and the reality. I think the CDC finally realized the “vaccinated must wait until we hit herd immunity to unmask” message was akin to “when hell freezes over.”
  • The part of town I live and work in is at <20% vaccinated in a state that’s still well under 50%, so this feels more premature here than it might elsewhere.
  • I was on the verge of bringing my kids back into shopping stores and now I clearly can’t because in fact this statement just gave permission to anti-maskers to go in stores without masks.
  • A depressing prediction I hope is wrong: “No need for indoor masks for the unvaccinated,” given our reluctance to verify immunization status, ends up meaning “no masks for anybody,” and we end up with a bunch of case spikes in low-vax areas.
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