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Some Massachusetts residents are changing course after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention once again recommended wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
The CDC announced last week that residents in areas with high or substantial transmission of COVID-19 should wear masks inside public places regardless of vaccination status as COVID-19 cases amongst vaccinated and unvaccinated populations continue to increase.
Baker lifted the mask mandate in May and only required residents to wear masks in places like public transit systems and health care facilities.
Nine Massachusetts counties currently pose a high or substantial risk for COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC. Barnstable and Nantucket counties are considered high risk while Middlesex, Suffolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Essex, Worcester and Hampden counties are now considered substantial risk.
We asked Boston.com readers if they plan on changing their behavior in response to the recent rise in cases, and the results were split. Of the nearly 2,200 readers who responded to the survey, 49 percent planned on changing their routines while 47 percent said they don’t plan on any change. Four percent said ‘Other,’ many stating that they’re not worried or have never stopped wearing a mask indoors.
“I am wearing a mask at indoor places where I do not know the vaccination status of those around me (grocery stores, Target, etc.). With the Delta variant, we are pulling back a bit on the things we had become more comfortable with,” Brooke from Watertown wrote.
Some readers plan on wearing a mask indoors again, avoiding crowded spaces, or cancelling their out-of-state vacations. Others said they’re vaccinated and unbothered by the breakthrough cases. Some are unvaccinated and don’t plan on wearing a mask any time soon.
“I’m not, and never will. Enough. It’s time to move on. There is risk in every day life. If you are afraid, stay inside. It’s that simple,” Jackson from Melrose wrote.
Despite the Delta variant increasing the spread among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, COVID-19 vaccines help reduce the severity of the illness, according to medical experts.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
“I personally know multiple vaccinated people who have had COVID in the last week or two, so I’ve resumed wearing a mask in indoor spaces, or in close quarters outdoors, when around strangers and friends who aren’t my immediate family.” — Robert, Jamaica Plain
“I’ll be wearing a mask indoors in public, not eating or drinking at bars, and staying away from the general public. I’m fully vaccinated and have a 9-month-old baby at home. We don’t need to be getting sick. It’s a bummer that there was a chance to put COVID down, but people wouldn’t get vaccinated and keep up the work of mitigation. Opening too soon and letting COVID get ahead again, it’s a real shame.” — Anonymous
“I continue to wear my mask in crowded settings. I can’t imagine spreading a virus in such a small town as Turners Falls or anywhere for that matter.” — Charlene, Turners Falls
“I am fully vaccinated and felt it was safe to not wear a mask so often, but now I am scared about this outbreak and wear it everywhere I go.” — David, Saugus
“I’m continuing to wear a mask in public, at the market, etc. I’m fully vaccinated, and when I enter the market not one person has a mask on. It’s difficult to believe they’re all vaccinated and on the honor system, so we who are vaccinated should remain vigilant and continue wearing a mask to protect ourselves and others from the spread, and prevent more deaths and great illness and sorrow.” — Anonymous
“I’m not attending a relative’s wedding in a few weeks. The combination of 200 people and an indoor reception doesn’t sit well with me, despite being vaccinated. I honestly expect an outbreak.” — Anonymous
“I have been socially isolating for [the] past 16 months. I wear a mask, sometimes a KN95 when [I’m] in any crowds and in all stores. I do not go to restaurants. Anyone who comes to my house has to wear a mask. I am extremely careful and vigilant. Social distance and sanitize. I have not visited any friends in person since COVID began last year. It has strained one relationship. I talk on the phone and use Zoom.” — Susan, North Grafton
“Absolutely not changing my behavior. Will never wear a mask again. I am vaccinated and have had COVID and could care less about the surge.” — Tom, Southie
“How can companies mandate that students, employees, etc. get a vaccine that is not even tested or approved for regular use by the FDA? This drug has not been substantially tested, aside from the manufacturers, and let’s be real — they are trying to sell you something. I will not be getting a vaccine until it is approved by multiple independent government agencies and research groups.” — Keith, Dorchester
“No change in my behavior! This is an example of government overreach! Last time I checked we live in a free country,” — Phil, Weymouth
“I’m ignoring the fear mongering and enjoying life to the fullest.” — Ron, Somerville
“I have not changed my behavior due to the recent COVID surge nor do I plan to. And by the way, I take exception to the manner and tone used in asking this question. You are implying that anyone who is answering ‘No’ to this question has a complete disregard for themselves and others.” — Chris, Scituate
“I never stopped living my life freely. Unmasked and unvaxed. Nothing’s going to change that.” — Mark, Dorchester
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.
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