The CDC’s latest COVID-19 recommendations have certainly contributed to further confusion about vaccination privileges, mask wearing and social distancing. For now, New Jersey has decreasing case loads. However, the majority of cases are related to variants, mutated forms of the virus which may have increased transmissibility. Fortunately, the vaccines seem to be protective to this point against them, but that may change in the future as the virus continues to evolve. Another thing to consider is that indoor exposures can be tricky and can depend on the size and space of the indoor location as well as its ventilation. A small food shop may have different requirements for its staff and patrons than a large department “box store”. Safety guidelines truly are not “one size fits all” when it comes to masking indoors for the unvaccinated. Even though full vaccinated individuals are mostly protected against COVID-19, they can still spread it to those who are not able to get vaccinated due to medical conditions or economic constraints. Studies also show that some fully vaccinated people with compromised immune systems are not as protected against the virus. As a vaccinated person, when you wear a mask indoors, you are safeguarding your community.
While it’s encouraging that studies to date show clinical effectiveness for the vaccinated protecting against severe infection, the continued observation of the world around us remains critical. As with past COVID forecasts, we will continue to monitor trends once further restrictions are loosened in NJ and around the nation and follow the 4 to 6 week period thereafter for potential bumps. In the end, vaccination will win the day if we take personal responsibility to protect others.