Many of us are allowed to take off our masks. Why some of us don't want to. - USA TODAY
May 06, 2021 1 min, 36 secs
President Biden echoed the CDC's new guidelines suggesting fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors unless they're in a big crowd.

According to new guidelines released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask outside except in crowded settings, and can unmask during small outdoor gatherings with vaccinated people. .

The act of stripping off these masks will feel foreign and uneasy for some, and that reaction is not unexpected, experts say. .

CDC guidelines: Fully vaccinated Americans don't need to wear masks outside, except in crowded settings.

"In the last year, we haven't had much control, both in terms of the vaccine rollouts or testing done early in the pandemic or sending kids to school. But what everyone can actually control is putting that mask on," says Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist in San Francisco

Those who are concerned about the pandemic are more likely to seek out the latest information on news variants and global COVID-19 surges, which might lead to a stronger compulsion to wear a mask, he said. 

"People have already gone through so many losses and tragedies during the pandemic, so it makes sense that some people are wary of adopting these recent recommendations until they feel it out for themselves," Karan says. 

Nearly half of Americans say they feel uneasy thinking about in-person interaction once the pandemic ends, according to the American Psychological Association's 2021 Stress in America report. And Sheriece Sadberry, a psychologist, says masks have served as a "natural barrier" for unwanted social encounters.  

Bordieri adds it might be stressful for those prone to anxiety or an intolerance to uncertainty to start thinking about how to acclimate to social settings as we start abandoning the masks

"It's burdensome and scary for some people to start thinking about how to meet new people, make new friends and adjust to this new society

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