New change in mask rules outdoors sparks questions about what’s really safe

Local News

(WSYR-TV)– The announcement that fully vaccinated people can go without masks outdoors is a huge milestone for Americans who have spent more than a year masking up and locking down. People have questions about this change.

One viewer asked the following: “I’m finally vaccinated and thrilled not to wear a mask when I’m outside. But my sister in Michigan talks about the surge of COVID there. With the variants spreading in some states, why change the rules now?”

It’s a great question. The answers are based on two things- science and persuasion.

More than half of eligible Americans, 52 percent, have gotten at least one shot. But the pace is slowing. President Biden touted the relaxation of restrictions as another reason for people to get vaccinated, not just to protect themselves and those around them, but so they can live more normally.

Science supports these changes. It is known that breezes disperse virus particles in the air, humidity and sunlight render the coronavirus less viable and it’s easier to keep your distance when walking, jogging or biking outdoors.

That’s not the case in crowded settings like sporting events and outdoor concerts, which is why masks are still required. For indoor events, science has proven there’s an almost 20-fold increased risk of transmission than for outdoor activities.

The bottom line is that people who have been hesitant to get vaccinated need more reasons to sign up. As we know from the AIDS crisis back in the 1980s, public health messaging focused on the positive rather than the negative is more effective. 

Seeing others outdoors without masks may convince more people to roll up their sleeves.

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