Opinion: Column: The Masks are Off...

Opinion: Column: The Masks are Off...

...and I suppose life is back on, especially for those of us who have been vaccinated. No more hiding your emotions and expressions behind your face-covering as you once again start interacting with the general public. They can see you and of course, you can see them – and you can hear/understand them, too. Conversations will flow more evenly now that they won't be interrupted by an "Excuse me, I can't understand you," or a "Could you please repeat that?" Conversations that were previously affected by fits and starts will revert back to questions and answers and what abouts. For me, the mask was an impediment to normal conversion. Necessary and prudent during a once-in-a-lifetime, public health emergency, but apparently, the time has come. Previous directives: masks, social distancing, contact tracing, quarantining and vaccinations were all most of us ever talked about. Now with vaccinations getting into more arms, our lives are expanding. From our living room to just plain living.

Though there are still mask-on requirements: in schools, on public conveyances, and in airports, train stations and the like and while obtaining healthcare services, we are now, especially those of us vaccinated, free to return to our previous life, mostly. Soon capacity restrictions will be lifted as our lives, so far as the activities which involve large crowds, both inside and out, can open back up in their entirety. Moreover, social distancing will likewise become a thing of the past. Now, all those round stickers marking six feet of distance as well as the plexiglas dividers will disappear as well. However, individual businesses retain the right to require visitors to mask up. As Bobby Brown used to sing: "That is my prerogative," and so too will businesses have their own prerogative to require patrons – or not, to abide by their mask-wearing requirements.

All of that being said and understood, even though I'm fully vaccinated, I still feel like I should mask-up. From the national vaccination statistics, there are plenty of people who have not yet been vaccinated and/or are unwilling/unconvinced they need to comply. I can't quite understand the "vaccine hesitancy" or the disinterest in following these most recent public health advisories. It seems like such a small, relatively risk-free/preventing risk step to take. I mean, whatever temporary side effects/discomfort one might experience a day or two after the injection pales in comparison to the effect on your body and/or life expectancy contacting the virus might have. I'll take a definite over a maybe anytime.

Besides, I don't want to be responsible for my own demise, or any others’ for that matter. In this situation, I'm happy/proud to conform to the public health directives. The virus is bigger – and badder, than any one of us; so to be bigger and badder than the virus, literally and figuratively, the more of us who receive the vaccine, the more of us will be able to survive this pandemic and safely embrace our former lives while not fearing the consequences of our inactions.

The other day at my local Giant, I happened to walk by the customer service desk where I heard a customer bragging to an employee about not planning on getting a vaccination, like he was proud of it. What a disconnect! I'm proud to have gotten my vaccination, and I'm equally proud to have participated in a national effort to try and combat the greatest health crisis this country has suffered since the Spanish Flu first infected Americans over 100 years ago.

I just wish more people would put the country ahead of themselves. For all that we're given here, it really doesn't seem too much to ask. In this circumstance, paybacks are not hell, they're heaven.