Differences about what we’ll do now

My friends and I agreed about those who weren’t treating COVID as a serious health threat. But now that we’re vaccinated, we diverge about reentering seminormal life. The differences have made me feel defensive on occasion. 

Did I detect a self-satisfied tone when two vaccinated friends said that they intend to keep their masks on outdoors? The perception was enough to keep me silent during the Zoom discussion. I feared being judged for shedding outdoor masks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the go-ahead.

I did express an opinion on the phone with another friend who said she won’t eat indoors at a restaurant unless assured that the servers are not infectious. I feel as safe as I’m going to get, I commented, and we can’t go through life without some risk. She countered that vaccinated people have gotten COVID, and that there’s a difference between necessary and chosen risk. We ended the call cordially, but I felt bad about disagreeing. 

The last thing friends need as the threat recedes is tension among themselves. 

Although I don’t think that I’ve done anything to put anyone at risk, myself included, I wondered whether I am being irresponsible. I actually went to the CDC website for reinforcement even though the new guidelines have been in the news so much I know them by heart.

While I am confident that I have little risk of getting COVID or passing it on, it’s kind to remember that not every vaccinated person shares that confidence. According to a survey taken by Vox and Data for Progress, more than half of fully vaccinated people say they will continue to wear masks outdoors. The reason given most often is to protect themselves.

“It feels really scary” for some vaccinated people to give up masks, Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Guardian. “We’ve come off a really anxious time … people are traumatized and they feel safer with the mask. And I think that’s absolutely fine.”  

Thinking about the phone conversation with my risk-averse friend, I realized that it would have been better to simply say that all of us feel differently about what we’ll do now. 

In these early stages of returning to some normalcy, those who are more comfortable about easing up will have to accommodate those who are less comfortable. If a friend wants me to keep my mask on when I’m with her, there’s little reason not to do so. If someone doesn’t want to come into my home yet, I’ll see her outside. We can revisit the issue in a few months or whenever it is appropriate.



Those planning a vacation for the first time in a year and a half may want to look into whether there will still be COVID restrictions at their destination.

In April I made train and hotel reservations for an August trip to Glacier National Park. I did not intend to rent a car, since there is a National Park Service shuttle within the park and a private shuttle between the Amtrak station and the park’s east entrance.

Correction: there was a private shuttle. It’s been discontinued this year. A hotel operator said that Uber and Lyft do not operate on Glacier’s remote eastern side, and the only option now for getting between the train station and the park is renting a car. Paying for a five-day car rental for a mere 14 miles round-trip seems crazy. 

Even if I could solve that problem, there could be long waits for the NPS shuttle within the park. Prepurchased tickets will be required for the first time, and the shuttle will make fewer stops along its scenic route. 

Using a rental car within the park would likely catch me up in heavy traffic; the park service is expecting more people than normal this year. 

Deciding that 2021 doesn’t appear to be the best year to go to Glacier, I canceled the reservations.


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  • Thanks, Marianne, for a very reasonable argument. Personally, I find myself hearing that "You can go back" to various places, and if I hear it on the radio, I wind up saying "YOU can go back" or "Can, not should." I am enjoying going a few more places. but I'm still an introvert!

  • We're each going to reenter at a different pace, and that's okay.

  • In reply to Marianne Goss:

    Yes. Thank you for understanding -- and providing a reply that I'll borrow when I hear people urging me to get out too much by my standards.

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