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Businesses greet loosened CDC mask rule with elation, consternation

Original post made on May 17, 2021

When President Joe Biden hailed new guidance from the CDC for fully vaccinated people last Thursday, his words struck a hopeful chord with some owners of businesses large and small -- while completely baffling others.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 17, 2021, 7:18 PM

Comments (29)

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2021 at 8:32 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

If there is anyone I feel sorry for in this pandemic it’s the small business owners that had their livelihoods upended due to the lockdowns. I am on the side of “it’s too soon.” There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel here, but the IHME projection model had cases and deaths in a steep decline starting at the beginning of July with masking. Why not wait until at least July 1st to announce this to coincide with Biden’s “Independence Day and Independence From The Virus” timeline?

It seems very suspect that a week after a (supposedly) bad jobs report, and a month before summer tourism season kicks off, the American people were told they could just throw their masks off and return to normal if they are vaccinated. It also sets the groundwork for a full time return to school in the fall even though a vaccine won’t be available for kids ages 2-11. I believe the drive to reopen schools has never been based on science, but rather aimed at compelling parents to return to work in order to expand corporate profits. Underscoring the calculated character of the CDC decision is the fact that a few hours later, (AFT) President Randi Weingarten gave a speech in which she declared for Fall, “There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. 5 days a week.”

In that linked Times article it states:
“Half of respondents said at least 80 percent of Americans, including children, would need to be vaccinated before it would be safe to do most activities without precautions. Though children are less likely than adults to develop severe cases of Covid-19, the scientists said their immunity was important because they could be hosts for the virus and a way for it to continue to circulate or develop new variants.”

With new and possibly more lethal vaccine resistant variants potentially spreading, I’m keeping my mask on at least until the end of the year, and possibly until 2027 here in my beloved Crescent Park.


Posted by Kyesha Williams
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 17, 2021 at 9:19 pm

Kyesha Williams is a registered user.

"With new and possibly more lethal vaccine resistant variants potentially spreading, I’m keeping my mask on at least until the end of the year, and possibly until 2027 here in my beloved Crescent Park."

In my beloved EPA, I am also wary of an emerging maskless community regardless of the current vaccination rate.

Though I am not a germophobe, I have insisted on the wearing of masks even during intimate relations and this of course limits certain options and preferences. Nevertheless I feel much safer and now that I am fully vaccinated, I have no intention of going maskless in public for the next several years as well.

The coronavirus is mutating like crazy and it remains to be seen whether the inoculated will need booster shots as new variants emerge.

Travel between serious outbreak countries like India will still have to be restricted until their infection rates drop dramatically.

In the meantime, the overall safety of us all from the coronavirus remains a crapshoot and it wouldn't surprise me if subsequent lockdowns are required as new Covid-19 variants emerge.


Posted by Joe
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 17, 2021 at 10:09 pm

Joe is a registered user.

It seems like the CDC's failure here is, again, about messaging. In terms of science their new guidelines simply acknowledge what everyone already knew, that vaccinated people are basically safe, but they didn't control the practical side of that message well enough to emphasize that unvaccinated people are still unsafe and that the CDC doesn't make the rules in any particular business or public facility, which can't realistically verify people's vaccination status anyway. This is actually very simple but people are so confused.

Also, how are we half a year into mass vaccination and still no easy verification system? The government is just now starting to think about that? Did nobody anticipate this phase?


Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2021 at 12:23 am

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

Good point, Joe, that the CDC's basic message makes sense but is impractical to implement. Unfortunately, there seems to be strong resistance among many Americans to a "verification system" for proof of vaccination, and I think the federal government has indicated it doesn't plan to create one. Under these conditions, with so many still unvaccinated, it seems that some degree of restrictions have to continue, because a cluster of infections could still spiral out of control.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Now that we are well on the road to herd immunity people do want to get out and about again. Any business should be encouraged in whatever way possible to start getting workers back, customers back, and getting the economy back. The best way for doing this is to enable people to work inside safely. Personally, I would rather wear a mask and be able to enter a business than be forced to do my business outside. I know it is quite pleasant to eat al fresco when the weather suits, I know it is quite reasonable to keep numbers lower inside in small offices and shops, I know it is still time to do some sensible precautions.

However, saying that, getting my hair cut while wearing a mask just gets ridiculous and seeing people sitting outside spas while getting their nails done or their hair colored seems unsightly to me.

The economy is ready to bounce back if only we are allowed to live a little easier.


Posted by James Frick
a resident of Community Center
on May 18, 2021 at 7:05 am

James Frick is a registered user.

- Unfortunately, there seems to be strong resistance among many Americans to a "verification system" for proof of vaccination,

An indelible and temporary tattoo verifying vaccination would suffice with harsh penalties (including mandatory imprisonment and fine) for anyone convicted of forging them.

Something along the lines of "VC-21" (for Victory over Covid 2021).

The tattoo would wash off after a year or so in the event subsequent vaccinations are required or if/when we truly succeed in eradicating the virus.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2021 at 8:51 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

I'm looking forward to the lifting of masks. We're on our way to herd immunity, and a sense of normalcy is welcoming. Covid has been a real litmus test as to how Americans handle a health crisis. It's been a difficult 14 months for all of us, but the reactions range from seriously paranoid to it's a hoax and everything in between. It's sad that not everyone is capable of remaining level headed.


Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on May 18, 2021 at 9:09 am

Leland J. is a registered user.

"Trust the science!!!.... except when it doesn't support my fragile emotional narrative."

Only in the Bay Area would people side with a New York Times opinion piece over the CDC which is *actually* leading the Covid response.


Posted by Fritz Lane
a resident of Downtown North
on May 18, 2021 at 9:15 am

Fritz Lane is a registered user.

The question remains...to ensure the public health of all American citizens following this pandemic and subsequent innoculation program, will the country continually need to restrict travel into the United States from countries where the virus is mutating like crazy and creating nation-wide epidemic outbreaks (e.g. India)?

What's the point of getting shots and wearing face masks if we are to be getting continually bombarded by mutating viruses from abroad?

As a further precaution, ALL international travel into (or returning to) the United States should be restricted for an unspecified period of time.

Business people can use ZOOM and prospective tourists can watch Rick Steve's on PBS or read National Geographic.

And if the airlines go out of business, the result will be less air pollution, fuel burning, and global warming.

So in some ways, there are positives that have come out of the pandemic.

We already have way too many dining outlets and lodging options as it is.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 18, 2021 at 10:34 am

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Tom from Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2021 at 12:43 pm

Tom from Midtown is a registered user.

I heartily agree with the posters who have talked about the flaws in the communication from the CDC. To my mind, though, the basic flaw is in the target audience. Setting children aside, the CDC is saying "if you are unvaccinated, you bear all the risk; you can (and should) mitigate that risk by wearing a mask, but what you really need to do is go get the shot".

On the other hand, if you are vaccinated, you don't really need to worry about the people who are going maskless -- if they're stupid or reluctant (or whatever adjective you'd prefer) to put themselves at such risk, that's on them. You aren't going to catch anything from them, nor will you be able to get anything that you can transmit to anyone else. OK, yes, there are very small probabilities of breakthrough infections -- but they're really very small. The risk you take driving to the grocery store is much greater than the risk of going maskless when you get there.

And, also OK, "setting children aside" is easier said than done. But the chances of most (non-immune-compromised) children developing even a symptomatic, much less serious, case of Covid-19 have been shown to be also really, really low. Still, it's a good idea for non-vaccinated children to wear masks.

To put the CDC message another way, people who want to get back to some semblance of a normal (pre-Covid) life have a very clear path: get fully vaccinated, and you're there.


Posted by Be realistic
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 18, 2021 at 1:08 pm

Be realistic is a registered user.

"Now that we are well on the road to herd immunity"
And where did you get that from?

"Herd immunity appears unlikely for COVID-19. Experts have estimated that between 60% and 90% of people in the U.S. would need to be vaccinated for that to happen. Only about 35% of the population has been fully vaccinated"
"To date more than 154 million Americans, nearly 47% of the population, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine"

The rate of vaccination is dropping; there will be about 30-40% who will not get vaccinated.
With the premature "unmasking" and new variants ... do not put your masks far away.
Delusions were never good for anything.


Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on May 18, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Leland J. is a registered user.

@Be Realistic: I think you are the one who is not being realistic. You don't know what constitutes "herd immunity". No one does. What we do know is that it will be very difficult if not impossible to fully eliminate Covid. So it is completely unrealistic and unnecessary, to sit at home until the disease is eradicated. We have to learn to live with it, to manage risk. Just like we do with all kinds of real life situations.

The CDC is the nation's pre-eminent authority on diseases. They are leading the research and data collection on Covid. They are no longer operating with political constraints of the previous administration. And the CDC has said clearly that masks can come off -- because they recognize that it's unrealistic to make these demands when the actual data shows that Covid is well within the range of acceptable risk and management.

Either you trust the science or you don't. But demanding "Covid Zero" is as unrealistic as it gets.


Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 18, 2021 at 11:00 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

False. The change in the CDC guidelines was a political decision driven by profit interests, not a scientific decision. It is a signal that the ruling elite intends to end all efforts to contain the pandemic because health and safety measures impinge on the profit drive of the super wealthy. Daily deaths and infections are at near record levels globally.
The decision to do away with masking requirements—under conditions in which the deadly virus is not contained and there are more than 30,000 new COVID-19 infections and over 500 deaths each day—is criminal and reckless. The discovery of new, dangerous, variants compounds this danger.
The CDC advisement on demasking flies in the face of the recommendations of epidemiologists who warn that the population should continue to wear masks in large indoor settings until at least 80 to 90 percent of the population is vaccinated as stated in the opinion article you scoffed at earlier.
Lines such as “it is necessary to live with the virus,” and “don’t make the cure worse than the disease” are just propaganda used by the financial elite to “normalize death.” The CDC dropping mask mandates right before summer travel season also accomplishes profits along with potentially carrying out “herd immunity” policies.
The pandemic is a global medical and social crisis, in which developments in any country affect all other countries. New infections are now at their high point globally, fueled by more infectious and lethal variants that can become resistant to existing vaccines.
Tonight the CEO of Virgin airlines said:
“COVID will be part of the community, we will become sick with COVID. Some people may die, but it will be way smaller than with the flu. We’re forgetting the fact that we’ve learnt how to live with lots of viruses and and we’ve got to learn how to live with this.”
Web Link
Take your mask off if you want to. Good luck!


Posted by Be realistic
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 19, 2021 at 1:33 am

Be realistic is a registered user.

Leland,

You are not realizing that you are agreeing with me. You want to learn to live with the virus - very well. Ditching masks is not living to learn with the virus; it is living how we lived before the virus.
As for not knowing what herd immunity is - I quoted what they know; it is a large range. The most optimistic projections of the total percentage who will get vaccinated fall short of the low of that range.
You contradict yourself, too. You are saying "nobody knows" and at the same time you are confident that CDC knows it is time to take them off. Talk about emotional narrative.
The story ends where it started. People who party without masks infect themselves and others. We are at the whim of this virus, again.
Delusions. Sad.


Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on May 19, 2021 at 6:43 am

Leland J. is a registered user.

Realistic,

The thing is, we are NOT “at the whim” of the virus. Thanks to vaccines, and the fact that over 80% of folks in our local area have taken them, there is almost zero chance that anyone will even get covid, let alone require a hospital trip or god forbid die. That’s not me making up a narrative, that’s based on facts that even Dr. Fauci and the beloved Sara Cody now acknowledge.

When a virus becomes so remote and non-lethal that you truly have a better chance of getting hit by a car or struck by lightning, that’s a pretty good signal for most sane people to take off masks - which is what motivated the CDC.

Of course, the emotional and delusional folks refuse to accept facts as good news and now question the very experts they demanded “take action” and “protect us”.

So you can stay home and wear a mask for another decade if you want. The rest of the world understands that thanks to vaccines the risks are now completely manageable.


Posted by Lorraine Gentry
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2021 at 8:28 am

Lorraine Gentry is a registered user.

To err on the side of precaution always makes the most sense to me.

Getting vaccinated and continuing to wear a mask in public is not unreasonable.

As for public and group participations, that decision is up to the discretion of the individual(s) once the restrictive public health mandates have been lifted.

A false sense of security is the biggest obstacle to overcome as Covid-19 is constantly mutating and the fall-winter virus season is still upon us.


Posted by menlo mom
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2021 at 9:48 am

menlo mom is a registered user.

Thanks, all, for reminding me why I moved away from the Bay Area in the middle of the pandemic.

@James Frick "An indelible and temporary tattoo verifying vaccination would suffice with harsh penalties (including mandatory imprisonment and fine) for anyone convicted of forging them."
Are you for real? You're asking me to let the government TATTOO my body? even temporarily? so some bouncer can verify that I'm vaccinated? Medical privacy out the window. So long HIPPA! If you're vaccinated, what do you care about anyone else? You're safe. Check all the studies. You're good. I'm good. Let the unvacc'ers worry about themselves. @Tom from Midtown said it well above.

@The Voice of Palo Alto "Daily deaths and infections are at near record levels globally."
So, Palo Alto, or Santa Clara County, or the state of California (all of which have exceeding low cases right now) need to continue the same precautions because India is being hit with a spike? Just not following your logic here.

As far as herd immunity goes, I'm continually frustrated with the lack of talk (studies, news, Fauci, whatever) about those who had it. If you do a deep dive into the internet, there are very few PROVEN examples of those who have had it more than once (second positive tests only count if it happens after 90 days). My guess is a lot of those who are vaccine reluctant, feel that way because they already had it. I wasn't in a big hurry for that very reason, but my zip code was selected for an early round, and I figured what the hell.

Guess it's time to cancel my subscription to Palo Alto Online. Outside of Tom from Midtown and Leland J, (and slightly Lorraine Gentry) I am just not on the same page as the Bay Area. All the best.


Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2021 at 10:25 am

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@Menlo mom
The pandemic is a global medical and social crisis, in which developments in any country affect all other countries. New infections are now at their high point globally, fueled by more infectious and lethal variants that can become resistant to existing vaccines.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on May 19, 2021 at 10:44 am

Leland J. is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by menlo mom
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2021 at 10:47 am

menlo mom is a registered user.

@The Voice of Palo Alto: All you other fun comments aside, the thing about masking requirements, Stay-at-Home orders, and other mandated mitigation efforts is: they can be reintroduced at the drop of a hat. So while Santa Clara County and the State of California's numbers stay low, the relaxed orders make sense. If the surge that is hitting other parts of the world begin to affect California, that can change at a moment's notice. In the meantime, most sane people aren't traveling to the many countries that the US State Department have placed on a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) travel advisory. But if they do, and manage to bring back virus variants that spread like wildfire, mask mandate back in place before you can say "Covid-19."

In the meantime, those that want to continue wearing masks, and avoid large groups, go right ahead. But for those that feel comfortable hitting a concert venue maskless, whether because they are vaccinated, had covid, or are just daredevils, it's time to let them do that. Basing our regulations on case rates on the other side of the world, just doesn't make sense to me.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2021 at 11:26 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Once again, it sounds like our community is divided. People are dividing themselves into those who are fearful and choose to remain fearful, and those who are welcoming the loosening of restrictions and looking forward to a return to doing some of the things we have been unable to do for 14/15 months in a relaxed but sensible fashion.

Personally, I don't care which side of the divide anyone is on. Herd immunity is coming. Santa Clara County is one of the highest vaccinated areas and our numbers of cases is one of the lowest. If anyone chooses to remain masked while out and about, chooses not to go out and about, chooses not to mix with others, and wants to remain on a high level of shelter for whatever reason, that is their prerogative and they can continue to do so for as long or until some criteria they feel is right for them has been reached. I will not judge them and I will respect their choice. For those of us who are fully vaccinated, feel that going out and about maskless but taking sensible precautions, we now have the ability to do so. We should be able to do this without being judged or disrespected. Name calling and pointing fingers is not the sign of an intelligent, respectful society.

The good news is we are in the yellow tier. California is set to open fully in mid June. It is worth celebrating the achievement we have reached. It is worth evaluating how we are going to move forward. It is worth getting our economy going again, getting our lives on track and becoming better because of all we have experienced in the past year or so. We should be a better, more thoughtful, and a more tolerant society as we start out with baby steps into the new future.


Posted by V. Singh MD
a resident of Los Altos
on May 19, 2021 at 11:33 am

V. Singh MD is a registered user.

At best and for the time being...

(1) get vaccinated.

(2) continue wearing face masks in public.

(3) avoid large gatherings.

(4) restrict travel to & from countries experiencing mass viral outbreaks from variant coronavirus strains.

This is about the best we can do for the moment.


Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on May 19, 2021 at 11:40 am

Leland J. is a registered user.

Dr. Singh:

Nearly everyone in our area IS vaccinated. No one is disputing that. The point is, since vaccines have made it quite safe to conduct our lives in a semi-normal fashion, continuing to wear masks is excessive and avoiding crowds is no longer necessary. This is per the CDC.

Travel to hot zones is just plain dumb, we can all agree on that.


Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2021 at 11:57 am

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on May 19, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Leland J. is a registered user.

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on May 20, 2021 at 7:47 am

TimR is a registered user.

"Pashalidis was ready to hear concerns from diners, but there were none, he said. Instead, vaccinated patrons happily removed their own masks."

What a surprise, that people trust the science behind the vaccines. But it shouldn't be all that surprising for Palo Alto, as I'm sure many have read all about both the trial results, and now the real-world data about the extremely high efficacy of the mRNA vaccines. Some I guess will want to continue wearing masks, but that is due to psychology, not biology.


Posted by Lucy Waters
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2021 at 8:14 am

Lucy Waters is a registered user.

At this stage, along with the current rate of vaccinations and the relaxing of coronavirus public health mandates, additional precautionary measures will pretty much amount to a personal decision.

I've gotten use to wearing a face mask in public over the past year and it has its advantages like not having to apply lipstick or teeth whiteners on a regular basis.

And some people (including myself) actually look better wearing a face mask.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2021 at 6:47 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] Today the World Health Organization recommended that even fully vaccinated people continue wearing masks due to the spread of the dangerous delta variant. I posted and recommended for everyone to continue to wear masks even if you are fully vaccinated over a month ago(see above). I also stated the CDC loosening all restrictions was basically for summer tourism and for the economy. This is why, Menlo Mom, this is a global social and medical crisis where events that transpire in one country effects everyone. [Portion removed.]

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