Critical ‘mask’: Are New Yorkers quick to ditch face coverings with mandate ending?

New Yorkers are taking sides when it comes to the new mask mandate.
Photo by Dean Moses

To wear a mask or not to wear a mask? New Yorkers weigh in on the CDC’s new face covering mandate.

For many people a face mask has become a security blanket when venturing into an outside world that still sees cases of COVID-19. Leaving the house without first donning facial protection could still be in the distant future for some New Yorkers.

But last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines which state those vaccinated can ditch the mask and breath air unfiltered through fabric. And on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York will adopt these health suggestions on May 19, the same day most COVID-19 regulations are lifted citywide.

Yet hours after Cuomo’s announcement, some Manhattanites had already decided to forego the masks 48 hours before the city’s reopening. Others continued to play it safe.

Vaccinated or not, some New Yorkers are not willing to remove their masks just yet. Photo by Dean Moses

With the weather rising to sweltering 75 degree temperatures, almost half of all pedestrians amNewYork Metro observed in Lower Manhattan on Monday afternoon freed their faces, whether that be simply yanking a mask to chin level or going completely nude from the neck up.

Was this due to the latest mandate or simply thanks to the dry, humid air? We spoke with New Yorkers regarding their thoughts on the letting the mask go.  

Even the elderly removed masks during the hot weather on Monday. Photo by Dean Moses

Lauren Child, 21, says she will be keeping the mask on for the foreseeable future despite receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I think I am probably going to keep wearing my mask just out of personal safety. I also don’t want people to think I like to go out without a mask on because it still makes me very uncomfortable, also I am slightly autoimmune compromised, so I prefer to just keep it on,” Child explained.

While she says she respects people who no longer feel the need to use a mask, she does also believe the new mandate could be coming a little too soon.

“I definitely think it is too soon, especially with everything that is going on in India right now. It feels very disrespectful to just not wear your mask when one person dies every five minutes,” Child said.

Lauren Child says she will be keeping her mask. Photo by Dean Moses

While Child will wear her mask to continue protecting herself and others, some see the face coverings as an extra layer of defense against germs for children. 

Josh Warren was playing ball with his son in Union Square Park, and while doing so he prefers the toddler stay protected.

“It stops him from putting his fingers inside his mouth or the ball from hitting his mouth,” Warren said, who adds he is apprehensive about the mandate since he feels some remove their masks regardless of vaccination status. 

“I am concerned about people who are going to take advantage. It puts the children at risk if the unvaccinated people are doing what I’m doing right now,” Warren said, pointing at his lowered mask.  

Josh Warren thinks that children should continue to wear masks since they aren’t able to get vaccinate yet. Photo by Dean Moses

Not everybody feels like the mandate is the wrong move.

Taylor Martino spends her professional life injecting the COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of those who need it, so she has unique prospective on the situation.

“I am a little skeptical because anyone can lie about it, but it is also nice because it is giving people a sense of normalcy, which I think gives people a bit of relief,” Martino said. “I feel like a decent amount of the population either has one vaccine or two. Outside it is okay because nobody sits on top of each other but inside on planes I think it should still be mandatory.”

Taylor Martino helps to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and thinks that it’s okay to remove your mask if vaccinated and outdoors. Photo by Dean Moses

Joseph O’Sullivan agreed that it is the right time to alleviate mask pressure for those who have had the shot in the arm, but he will still be thinking twice about taking his mask off thanks to those who still refuse the needle.

“I think it’s going to be game for people. You don’t have to wear a mask if you got a vaccination, but I think people who don’t like masks are just going to lie and say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been vaccinated,” O’Sullivan said, adding, “I’m going to err on the side of wearing a mask.”

Physical exercise just got a little bit easier for vaccinated adults. Photo by Dean Moses 
Some individuals kept their mask on their chin rather than removing it all together. Photo by Dean Moses


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