Two Different Views of the New CDC Rules for Vaccinated People

8 mins read

Mindy the Vaccinated

It was just a year ago, but it seems like another lifetime. My husband and I were starting a 10-day vacation that included a few days tasting and discussing wine at the annual “World of Pinot Noir” in Santa Barbara, five days in beautiful Mendocino, and a weekend in San Francisco to break up our drive home to Southern California.

We were aware enough of the coronavirus that we brought disinfecting wipes with us and carried hand sanitizer in our pockets, but as can be seen in the Facebook post below, masks and social distancing were not even considered, nor was anyone particularly afraid. In less than a week, everything changed. By the time we left Mendocino, the number of COVID-19 cases in San Francisco was on the rise, and instead of stopping for the weekend, we drove straight home to Carlsbad, where we stayed for almost a year.  

Ironically, after 40 years of having my schedule completely dominated by IRS deadlines, this was the first time I didn’t have to work non-stop during tax season. I’d sold my business the previous November and was excited about starting a new career in animal nutrition, for which I’d spent three years taking college classes. But the pandemic changed everything. 

Now, 12 months later, we are fully vaccinated and planning another trip. This time our choices of destinations are completely dependent on the California COVID-19 color scheme. Mendocino is out because it is still in the “purple tier” which doesn’t allow indoor dining. Since the nighttime temperatures will be in the 40s or colder in Northern California, places in the “red tier,” where socially distanced indoor dining is allowed, are preferred. We will also be visiting family and friends. Hopefully by then they will be fully vaccinated, too, and we can greet each other with actual hugs.

Is it fair that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed the rules for fully vaccinated people? Being fully vaccinated in California means that you are over 65 or have a high-risk health condition, both of which made the last year especially scary. While my younger friends felt comfortable going out in public, the older ones, especially those who had health issues, were trapped in our homes going stir crazy. I hope that everyone will be fully vaccinated soon and 2020 will become a fading memory, but until then, I’m going to take advantage of the freedoms I’ve been given by science and carry a new appreciation into the future. I understand how frustrating it is for you, Rena, and I truly hope that you get your shots soon.

Rena the Unvaccinated

Mindy, I am so glad that you will be able to visit your family soon and be out and about in the world without feeling like you are taking your life in your hands. I truly am. And if you come to Northern California I will come see you, mask on, and I may even hug you but since I am not vaccinated, that is up to you. I get that since I’m only 50-something and healthy, I’m way down on the priority list. I’m not really concerned or bitter about the wait — after all, I had COVID antibodies in December and I hope they are still doing their job. My sister, now, might be genuinely bitter. Up in Marin where she lives, everyone has been managing to get their hands on the vaccine, even a friend’s 20-year-old son. But, as she points out, she’s going to be the last person not vaccinated in her town, which means she should be safe!

No, my distress comes because I think the new CDC guidelines allowing people who are fully vaccinated to gather inside, unmasked, is just going to lead to confusion and cheating. Yes, I know that outside, in public, people are supposed to keep their masks on (unless you live in Texas or Tennessee or any of the other states whose leaders don’t believe in science), but we are Americans, after all. CDC, do you really expect us to follow precautions? Once the mask is off, I’ll bet for a lot of Americans it is not going back on again. We have all already seen that guy. You know, the one wearing the mask under the nose or pulling the mask down to speak. Do you really think that guy is going to even try to keep the mask on and protect those around him, who may be high-risk, from catching COVID-19?

And I understand. The CDC wants people to feel safe after they get vaccinated so that other people decide it is safe to get vaccinated. The lure of normalcy will get us to herd immunity. But what really gets me is this: While the CDC is telling vaccinated people, Go frolic, hug, have fun, enjoy life again! — and I want them to do so, really, I do! — it is still sticking with the six-foot distancing between the fully vaccinated and people from more than one household. Which means that in California the majority of the 6.1 million public school students are still learning at home in front of computer screens. Yes, California, the Golden State, ranks dead last when it comes to in-person instruction for kids. The wine may flow freely but our kids are still stuck in distance learning. 

Rena's Kids
California kids in distance learning

And this matters to the rest of you because we make up 10% of the country. You don’t think if our kids fall behind because of a year of pandemic learning, we won’t drag the rest of you down with us? I certainly hope that all the school districts in California jump on the funds offered through the American Rescue Act which President Joe Biden signed on March 11.

So basically, to circle back to the CDC and why I am pissed off: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, if you have time to message that it’s safe to be inside without masks, perhaps you can spare a few moments for the kids of California.

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