Governor Gretchen Whitmer has lifted face mask requirements in most places effective June 22. Some people say, however, that they will continue to wear masks and are bracing for a new kind of mask shame.
WXYZ randomly asked people in downtown Royal Oak if they had ever been rejected for wearing a mask and quickly heard stories.
Sahil Sewnani and Aarti Panchal say this happened to them recently while on vacation in Florida. The tour guides who took them on excursions didn’t think they needed masks.
“They were kind of laughing, like ‘oh you think there’s a virus going to attack you’,” Sewnani said.
“There was a lot of judgment, but we kept our mask on,” said Aarti Panchal.
It’s a new kind of masked shame. You see him playing on Facebook. We asked if people who wear masks feel judged and have received hundreds of comments. One commentator said: “If you always wear a face layer, you are a jerk and have to stay locked in your house. “
The people we have spoken to are calling for love and understanding.
“Everyone just needs to try to get along,” said David Cryberg, who wears a mask because he has diabetes.
“It’s just a rag and no big deal,” said Margo Broser, who respects the decisions of others.
“I am a health care worker. I had the coronavirus. I have been vaccinated. But right now, I’m not ready to unmask myself, ”said Tracey Lasak, who in her job cares for some people with weakened immune systems.
“It can be very scary,” said Aarolyn McCullough.
McCullough received a life-saving liver transplant when his granddaughter Layla had one. We met them at Aarolyn’s in Oak Park as they prepared to celebrate Layla’s 11th birthday.
“She is very special. She does a lot for me. We talk on the phone for hours every day because she is my best friend and I am grateful that she is my grandmother, ”said Layla Dunlap.
“I survived ten years with a liver transplant and I want to survive to be there for my grandchildren,” McCullough said.
McCullough wears a mask as she takes drugs that prevent her body from rejecting her donor’s liver, but also suppress her immune system. Some transplant recipients have learned that drugs can weaken the potency of vaccines.
Health officials say transplant recipients are just one example of people who might want to continue to mask themselves, even if the restrictions are lifted.
“If you are not yet fully immunized, you should still wear this mask,” said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, MPH, public information officer for the Washtenaw County Department of Health.
“And on top of that, there are people who will remain vulnerable to the disease even if they are vaccinated. So think of someone with an underlying disease. Someone who might be immunocompromised. This vaccine is just not going to protect them the same way it will protect them, ”Ringler-Cerniglia said.
According to the state, as of June 17, 60.8% of Michiganders had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The overall message is that we are making great strides in the fight against COVID-19, but for some the risk remains greater than for others.
“We shouldn’t be judging people who wear a mask. Not at all, ”said McCullough.
McCullough says health is precious. If you are vaccinated and healthy enough to remove your mask, don’t take it for granted.