The Ins & Outs of Unmasking


Max Ludwick, Staff Writer

It seems that masks mandating outdoors have loosened up.  How do people really feel about this subject? It has been over a year since COVID-19 has railroaded throughout lives and where exactly are we? With mass vaccinations being a reality, how do people feel about masking outdoors, and is there a real need? 

In late April, New York State opened up mask-wearing to those further than 6 feet, outdoors. However, many topics here remain the same and many interviews have the same considerations and concerns. Studies show that the risk of inhaling the aerosolized virus is negligible. The odds of getting a large enough dose of the virus to become infected remain low. However, most interviews and many articles show that people are still more comfortable masked and remaining outdoors during dining.  Tara Parker-Pope, in a New York Times article, explains that “even outdoors, your risk of breathing someone else’s air increases the longer and closer you stand to them. One of the few documented cases of outdoor transmission happened in China early in the pandemic when a 27-year-old man stopped to chat outside with a friend who had just returned from Wuhan, where the virus originated. Seven days later, he had his first symptoms of COVID-19.”

Ultimately, it comes down to comfort and people have to do what is most comfortable for themselves and considerate of those around them. Not everyone has received the vaccine or intends to receive the vaccine, for a variety of reasons. Therefore, if one finds themselves in circumstances in which they are in close contact with another, they should continue to wear their mask, for everyone’s sake.

As of May 19, 2021, masking in New York state will no longer be a requirement for those fully vaccinated, indoors or outdoors. However, many states still require masking indoors and outdoors, in an effort to reduce the spreading as much as possible. Also, New York City’s health commissioner is still recommending masking indoors. New Jersey has eliminated the need for mask-wearing outdoors but still mandating mask-wearing indoors. Connecticut has followed New York’s path and will be mask-free for vaccinated individuals, indoors and outdoors.

Ultimately, without enforcing vaccinations, there is no way to ensure those that go unmasked are vaccinated, putting others at risk. It is a road paved with bumps as state and local governments are able to make decisions as they see fit, so there is not an overall national plan. Understandably, as each state faces different COVID percentages and cooperation from those living in the state. This has caused confusion because there isn’t one way of doing things and private businesses can still opt to require whatever procedures they see fit.

Summer is ahead of us and it will be interesting to see how things play out. The vaccinations greatly reduce the chances of COVID-19 spreading. Those that have been vaccinated should be able to enjoy a very different summer 2021 than that of summer 2020. Here’s to summer!