Seeking advice: I live in Texas; Can I ditch my mask now that the mandate is over?

texas mask mandate
Photo via Nicolas Henderson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The coronavirus vaccine has forced us to adapt to a new normal. One day, if people take precautions and wear their masks and get the vaccine when it’s available, perhaps the new normal will revert back to the way things used to be.

Until then, you might have questions about how you’re supposed to live your life in this new world. Hopefully, we can give you the answers.

So, as we do our best Dear Abby and/or Ask Ann Landers impression, let’s answer the query that’s most on your mind.

Q: I live in Texas, and the last month has been … not ideal, to say the least. Dealing with unprecedented ice storms, dealing with a loss of power for days at a time, dealing with no water at the house, and then dealing with burst pipes when they thawed out. As soon as we got through that, Gov. Greg Abbott then decided to lift the statewide mask mandate. Aside from the politics of the issue—I have some friends who love Abbott’s move because FREEDOM!, and I have other friends who say that it’ll leave blood on his hands—should I continue wearing a mask?

I wouldn’t be asking if I hadn’t already been vaccinated. But I’ve received both doses of the Moderna vaccine, and I’m mostly wearing a mask these days because it’s either required by the store I’m entering or because I want to be a positive role model in the community. But if Texas now says I don’t need to wear a mask inside a restaurant or while shopping for groceries, should I just ditch it? 

A: If you want to go strictly by the CDC recommendations (not to mention Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Biden), yes, you should keep wearing your mask. Biden called Abbott’s decision “Neanderthal thinking.” Fauci said lifting the mask mandate was “inexplicable.” And CDC Director Dr. Rachelle Walensky encouraged people to continue wearing facial coverings, to keep social distancing, and “to do the right thing to protect their own health.”

Said Walensky, “I think we at the CDC have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions. The next month or two is really pivotal with how this pandemic goes as we scale up vaccinations, we really do need to decrease the amount of the virus that is circulating as we are trying to vaccinate all of the public.”

Basically, this is a decision you’ll have to make on your own. You can wear a mask after you’ve been vaccinated and stay in solidarity with the rest of the community that hasn’t yet been inoculated. Or you can fling off the mask and show your face to the world. On a safety level, you’ll probably be fine either way. Obviously wearing a mask would still keep you and the people around you safer on the off chance you get COVID, are asymptomatic, and then start unknowingly shedding it. But if you’ve been vaccinated, catching COVID would be a rarity. 

But if you want to set a good example, keep on wearing the mask. Fauci would proud of you if you did. 

If you missed our last Dear Abby offering, we answered a question about whether you should go back to your gym without wearing a mask.

Written by Josh Katzowitz