The Real Reason Some People Don't Want To Stop Wearing Face Masks

Unless you've had your face mask over your ears and eyes, by now you probably know that the CDC released new recommendations about wearing face masks for fully vaccinated individuals (via The New York Times). Essentially, those people who are two weeks past having their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or their first Johnson & Johnson shot, can stop wearing masks both outdoors, and indoors, in most settings. In fact, stores from Walmart, to Starbucks, to Trader Joe's announced masks are now optional for fully vaccinated shoppers.

But just because the CDC has changed its stance on the necessity of wearing face coverings to protect yourself against COVID-19, this does not mean everyone plans to follow the advice. Indeed, many people may not want to drop their masks.

Why? Well, even though lots of folks are sick of the accessory that had until recently become mandatory in today's pandemic world, CBS News reports after more than a year of hidden smiles and evenĀ maskne, face masks have become a sort of security blanket for a large number of people.

Why people are struggling with dropping their face masks

As psychotherapist Kathryn Smerling told CBS News, "The mask gives us a sense of security and makes us feel more comfortable." She also added about face coverings, "It does give you the anonymous quality that often we want and we crave."

On the first point, it's worth noting that some in public health do not support the CDC's new mask guidance according to The New York Times, with many noting wearing masks in large public settings is the safest option for at least another year.

But, a Yahoo!/YouGov poll found the CDC's mask announcement was what most frequent wearers were waiting for before dropping their masks. And, as more and more people get vaccinated, it seems we may see at least a large number of maskless faces in the future, with NPR reporting 122 million people, or 37 percent of Americans, are now fully immunized against COVID-19.

When fully vaccinated people may feel comfortable dropping the face masks

Although many fully-vaccinated people are comfortable dropping their face masks as a result of the new CDC guidance, as Dr. Aderonke Pederson, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine told the Chicago Tribune, "A year in, we've been conditioned to say the safe thing to do is to put your mask on and not be close to other people, and now we're having to readjust and adapt to what will end up being a new normal in the coming months."

She added tellingly, "There's a level of conditioning that happens when we are changing our behavior, when you continue to engage in that particular behavior for a specific time, your body adjusts to that behavior."

Ultimately, according to Pederson, going maskless in all settings may take time for many people, and that is perfectly normal and okay. Meanwhile, it's important to note that at this time, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals are encouraged to keep their face masks on.