One of the worst decisions made during the pandemic, and after an initial good start it pains me to say it, was CDC Director Walensky’s decision to tell people if they were fully vaccinated, they no longer needed to wear a mask in public areas indoors. The notion this would give people an incentive to be vaccinated was, at best, marginal: poll after poll shows that people who are vaccine hesitant overwhelmingly cite concerns about the safety of the vaccine as the key factor in their hesitancy (yes, there are other issues cited such as access or missing work, but, far and away, safety concerns dominate). Likewise, people who were eager to be vaccinated didn’t get vaccinated so they wouldn’t have to wear masks anymore, though that’s a perfectly fine secondary benefit (if warranted by the epidemiology), they (we) did it so they would be safer.
Without any verification scheme, which is to say the honor system was used, it was obvious that people were lying about their status. Many weren’t, but enough were. And here we are.
I think it’s possible over the next few months, at least in states with a modicum of responsible governance, we’ll see a shift towards mandatory masking in public essential places (e.g., grocery stores) and a requirement to prove vaccination in non-essential places. Alternatively, these same places will mandate a whole lot of vaccination. But the current situation, while it won’t lead to a calamity like we had in January, isn’t sustainable. There will be enough American Carnage (to use a phrase) to force officials to take action. It also seems pretty clear that there is a vaccinated ‘silent majority’ that is really tired of people’s bullshit, and that it will only get larger and more vocal.
So my guess–and I could wind up being laughably wrong–is that we’re going to see, in some/many places, either a ‘mixed masking’ strategy or a whole bunch of vaccine mandates (especially once the FDA gets off its ass and formally approves the vaccines*).
*I get that the FDA doesn’t want to be hasty, but this is hardly a case where, after administering hundreds of millions of doses world-wide, one could possibly think there is either fraud occurring or a better therapy. Move faster FDA.