Wearing a mask has been a statement of protecting each other from the spread of COVID-19 over the past two years. In healthcare, wearing a mask made faculty and staff feel like they were being responsible, conscientious, and considerate of patients and peers. For others, it felt like a requirement that infringed upon rights and self-determination. Whichever category you may fall into, we are inching closer towards a world without masks.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced fully vaccinated and boosted individuals may be safe without a mask in an indoor and outdoor setting. This might feel like a step towards resuming our lives as we did prior to the pandemic, but it will require a psychological re-adjustment.
Relying on our masks for protection has psychologically impacted many of us, so giving up that security overnight is unrealistic. It will take time for many to adjust and feel comfortable removing their masks all together. Some may even choose to continue wearing a mask even a year from now. While we have different opinions, we must show each other respect in our individual decisions and make the choice for ourselves. There's no rush to remove or discard a mask if you feel hesitant going out without one. You are in control of your health and should move at your own pace. If you are fully vaccinated, boosted, and are ready to shed the mask, enjoy and show off your smile again!
As we continue into 2022, our hope is that COVID-19 will move from a pandemic to an endemic. If you are not fully vaccinated, need a booster shot, or want to obtain a COVID-19 test, visit the Employee COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.
If you are struggling with anxiety or stress over the COVID-19 pandemic, please call Work/Life Connections-EAP at 615-936-1327 to schedule an appointment with a certified counselor.