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GARY SMITH: No mask required?

After a year, shedding mask a little hard to get used to by Gary Smith | May 21, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Well, this is going to take some getting used to.

For a little more than a year (seems longer), a face mask has been a normal part of my wardrobe on those rare occasions when I left the house. Now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I can forget about that and just concentrate on finding my keys, phone, wallet and, given the times we live in, pants.

The latest from the CDC is, if you are fully vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask in most settings. Which means, effectively, that most people won't wear a mask, either because they're fully vaccinated and happy to show you their card at a moment's notice, or they're "those" people who have a thousand mostly dubious reasons for not getting vaccinated, all of which are basically, "I don't wanna and you can't make me."

And many of "those" people also won't wear a mask because it will keep others from noticing they're holding their breath or stamping their feet or however else they demonstrate their respective temper tantrums. I mean, if you throw a fit in a forest and no one is around to see it -- and even if someone is, you're wearing a mask -- did it even happen and, more importantly, did you get any attention for it?

The bottom line is this: If you decided to wear a mask because you were driven by the science and trusted the CDC, then you have to be just as driven by that science and your trust in the CDC following its latest announcement. Which is not to say you'll be 100% comfortable right off the bat. After all, there are only so many things science can be responsible for.

And if you decided that the CDC was a front for space aliens or some mind control tool used by a hostile power (bet you made that claim on Facebook, proving once again that irony is dead), you can't all of a sudden decide that now you believe them and you were right all along. Especially when, in reality, if you didn't get sick, you were just lucky. Which may have worked this time but isn't, in the long run, good public health policy.

One of the most amazing things about the CDC's announcement and people's reaction to it is the realization that, a little more than a year ago, a lot of us didn't even know we had a CDC. Or thought it was the minor leagues for the NBA or one of those shiny things that took the place of vinyl records.

Now, many of us are convinced it's the love child of Nazism and communism by way of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. Which, I guess is ... progress?

I mean, previous to all this, the only time most of us ever thought about the CDC was when it was telling us the flu season was going to be bad this year. Which they've said every year. And if you had the flu, you'd likel agree the CDC was right, because ... the flu is bad.

Now, they're saying the plague is largely over for those of us who would rather take a vaccine that play Pandemic Russian Roulette. And the flu season is going to be bad. Because ... well, ... it's the flu.

So while I'm excited about the new guidance, I'm a little nervous. For one thing, a mask has become not just a part of my wardrobe, but the dental hygiene equivalent of a baseball cap – something you can just throw on to cover for the fact that you've been a little less than fully housebroken today.

Also, something that looks ridiculous worn backwards. But that's another issue.

Giving that up on the morning coffee and donuts run may be in keeping with CDC guidance, but it's likely not going to make me any friends in a lot of places.

The new "mask-less" guideline is also going to deprive me of the opportunity to glare at non-mask wearers in public settings. However, since I was, you know, wearing a mask and my glasses were likely fogged over, I'm pretty sure the impact was lost.

Still in all, I'm pretty sure I'll adjust. I mean we knew, even when we were in the depths of microwaving our mail and fumigating our groceries in the back of our cars, that the day would come when all of that would be an unpleasant and Lysol-scented memory. And now, apparently, that day is here.

So, it's going to take a little getting used to. But I'm more than willing to make the effort.


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