Podcast: When Can I Take Off My Mask?

It seemed like using a safety belt in a parked automobile and after that unbuckling the safety belt simply as I put the automobile in drive. It seemed like doing the reverse of what security preventative measures ought to determine. So I composed this piece basically explaining, based upon great deals of research study, that this infection does not appear to spread out extremely successfully outdoors and we ought to most likely consider soon raising outside mask requireds while motivating immunized and unvaccinated individuals to use their masks in public indoor areas.

I want people to live their life as normally as possible while protecting themselves as reasonably as possible. And I think the way to do that is: masks inside, masks in crowds, no outdoor mask mandates for people just living their life outside.

Higgins: If hygiene theater is what we’ve maybe been overdoing, what haven’t we been doing enough of that we should probably do more?

Thompson: I’m really glad that you asked that. I think people listen to me and [often] they’re like: Oh, you don’t take the pandemic seriously. And I do. I just conceptualize of this pandemic very specifically. It’s an indoor, talking disease, for the most part. If you are talking or breathing inside in an exerted way, like at the gym, that’s where the threat is. I think that people have sometimes had a really backward idea of what they should be doing inside.

I composed this piece last summer about library rules for America. We should have signs on places like CVS or Trader Joe’s that say: Please Keep Your Voice Down. This disease truly does spread through the aerosolization that comes from our talking. So people who go into CVS with their masks on and then pull down their mask to talk more clearly into [their cellphone] have completely misunderstood how this infection works. Don’t do that. Keep your voice down. That’s a very reasonable thing to ask of people in these public spaces.

But I’m for giving and taking. We should take away from people this freedom they might feel to chat loudly on the phone in CVS and Trader Joe’s, while at the same time giving them the removal of outdoor mask mandates. [We should be] giving them the outside, not shutting down beaches [or] shaming people for going out in a park without their masks on. We should be celebrating the outdoors, while more tightly regulating the indoors.

Hamblin: I couldn’t agree more with you, Derek. This is an issue that, in covering health behaviors, I tend to run up against quite a lot. People see binaries. Something is either good or bad. And masks appear to fall in that category where it’s hard to emphasize that things are only good or bad in context.

How do you believe about threading that needle for individuals who are just like: I thought I needed to use a mask. Now you’re saying I don’t need to wear a mask? I think Dr. [Anthony] Fauci sees that binary and thinks: We need to keep individuals in the “Masks are good” classification and not the “Masks are bad” classification.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.