Doctor’s Orders

If Wal-Mart says it is Ok, it is Ok, right? We CAN take off our masks inside the giant retailer and shop until we drop – from shopping not Covid-19. Of course, everyone in the store who is not wearing a mask has been vaccinated, right?

Don’t ask. Truth can be found on Aisle 3, right next to the honor system in short supply until recently. Of course, neither truth nor honor is for sale. Those qualities are priceless like good health.

The Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines in the fight against the coronavirus last week. After more than a year, the C.D.C told Americans that we no longer must wear masks indoors, if we have been fully vaccinated. It is the key ingredient here, what the doctor ordered.

Instead of a resounding cheer, the new guidelines were met with confusion and caveats. There are exceptions; masks must be worn in: medical facilities, schools, planes and boats and trains, prisons, and jails. Plus, some states may balk at totally removing mask mandates along with some companies, Delta Airlines, for example.

At first, retailers questioned by the media declined to comment on the C.D.C ruling that stunned everyone: health experts and political and business leaders. But, by the end of the week, decisions were made. Wal-Mart opted for no masks and the honor system. Costco too, along with Trader Joe’s, opted for no masks. Other stores, suffering from more than a year of reduced sales, moved quickly to prevent a loss of customers to Wal-Mart and Costco.

Some criticized, rather than cheered, Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease specialist and clinical professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health, who told the Washington Post that he is not going to follow the new guidelines. He is going to wear a mask indoors. “This (decision) shows tremendous confidence in how well the vaccines work,” Dr. Swartzberg said. “The C.D.C. does not have data to support this decision.”

The death toll is down. Hospitalizations are down, but no one knows for sure what prompted the change other than the availability of vaccines. The C.D.C. recently announced that everyone 12 years and older can get vaccinated. About thirty-six percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. But. there is simply no way to tell them apart from the sixty-four percent of the population that has not been fully vaccinated or vaccinated at all.

Some Mary Poppins types said the decision was prompted by the rosy belief that those who have yet to get vaccinated will do so now that they can toss their masks. Hard to believe since some locales have gone so far as to offer beer, days off from work and cash to get reluctant citizens to take the vaccines. Nothing seems to have moved those Americans who oppose the vaccines or believe the virus is a hoax to get vaccinated. Are they even wearing masks?

It doesn’t matter. Happy Days are here again. If the anti-vaccers or hoaxers want to shop without a mask or a vaccination, they can. Who will be the wiser? We can’t ask, and they are not required to tell. We do not have to carry vaccine passports. We are all as good as our word.

That man standing next to you in the frozen fruit section reaching for a bag of blackberries might not have been vaccinated, and, worse yet, he might not be disease free. Stand back until he moves on. While you are waiting, give thanks for your vaccines. Then get some raspberries for the C.D.C.

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