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360: Two weeks after mandate lifted, Coloradans still confused about when to wear masks

Health and social acceptance are factors
Posted at 3:25 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 17:29:37-04

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DENVER — It’s been two weeks since a statewide mask mandate was lifted, and many Colorado businesses began dropping the requirement for customers and workers to cover their faces.

Earlier this month the CDC came out with new guidance saying fully vaccinated people can safely go mask-free inside and outside.

Even with the new guidance, it’s still common to see many people wearing masks while visiting businesses in the Denver metro. Since nobody is required to show a vaccination card, it’s not clear if the people still wearing masks are vaccinated and just uncomfortable taking them off.

To help navigate through this confusion Denver7 talked to three experts.

Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, says we can trust that the vaccine is providing adequate protection without a mask.

“Your chances of getting [the virus] are, of course, are much lower than before, and if you do get it, you tend to be able to control the amount of virus in your body because you're vaccinated, so you don't shed as much [virus],” France said.

France said that means vaccinated people are not likely to give the virus to unvaccinated people, including children. But kids under 12 or others who aren’t vaccinated should wear masks in public.

But University of Denver psychology professor Apryl Alexander says a lot of people are still worried about themselves and how they’ll be perceived if they take the mask off.

She believes many people will continue wearing them both for protection and because it’s become normalized.

“We don't have that kind of odd reaction when we're seeing people in masks anymore, it's become a natural part of our day-to-day living,” Alexander said.

Metropolitan State University of Denver marketing professor Darren Duber-Smith said in his communication classes he teaches about non-verbal communication. He believes we need to remove the masks to start communication and trusting each other again.

“Our facial expressions, our body language, these are things we have to be able to read. We haven't been able to do this for over a year, and we dislike each other more,” Duber-Smith said.

All three believe as more people get vaccinated and case numbers begin to decline, more people will feel comfortable unmasking. However, France said he hopes mask wearing will become more common during cold and flu season.

“Feb. 22, 2020, which is like 15 months ago, was the last time I had a cold,” France said.