Having braved over a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, US citizens are now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccinations have resulted in the decline of new COVID-19 cases in the US and the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, particularly concerning fully vaccinated individuals. Many fully vaccinated members of the Urban community said that the biggest change since getting the vaccines is being more relaxed. “I have a lot more peace of mind with just interacting with other people,” said Kathryn Doorey, communications associate.
In addition to “a little extra peace of mind,” Elijah Hennen ‘22 said the biggest difference for him is in “the here and there…you just see people and you can stop and hang out for a moment.” However, while Hennen thinks “more people are a little bit more open to being closer,” he is still “being respectful to other people, trying to keep [his] space and be polite about it.”
In one of the boldest moves since the start of the pandemic, the CDC announced on May 13 that “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” unless required by laws, rules, or regulations (such as local business’ rules). Many big-name businesses and companies including Walmart, Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s and Starbucks have followed suit, saying that customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks.
Julia Susser ‘22 is fully on board with the CDC and these local businesses’ statements. “It’s good that the federal government and the CDC were forward-thinking enough to be like, ‘okay, we see the effectiveness and we’re not going to ignore it. And we’re going to start to loosen regulations and help things go back to normal,’ because it’s important for all of us, if we’re vaccinated, to be in school and seeing other people.”
However, not everyone agrees with Susser. Many members of the Urban community are choosing to lean on the more cautious side. For example, Eloise Brotzman ‘21 is still hesitant about indoor dining because she knew how unsafe it was, in the months prior to being vaccinated. Doorey, who had personal experiences before the pandemic around health issues, is also being particularly careful and only unmasking around other unvaccinated people when outdoors. Additionally, Mira Vestel ‘22 said that while she trusts the CDC and the science behind the vaccines, “I’m probably going to keep wearing a mask…I don’t want other people to think I’m an anti-vaxxer.”
Hennen also voiced his concern over the enforceability of the CDC guidelines. “If you see someone out on the street, you don’t immediately know if they’re vaccinated or not,” he said, “so it seems very likely that people will just abuse that and always have their mask down.” However, Hennen said that “for the most part, I like what we’re doing – moving a little bit away from the masks but not just going cold turkey and completely dropping [masks] like other states did.”
While getting vaccinated may appear daunting at first, fully vaccinated members of the Urban community believe it’s worth it. “We have this gap in time where we know the vaccines are actually very effective against the variants that are existent right now,” Susser said. “We have this opportunity, and we should take advantage of it if you’re vaccinated to kind of enjoy life. You know, stop, [and] appreciate the fact that we can do these types of things.”