To mask, or not to mask: Brooklynites react to updated CDC guidelines

Brooklynites go about their day along Fulton Street on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
Brooklynites go about their day along Fulton Street on May 19, when New York relaxed its masking guidelines to reflect updated CDC recommendations.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

With the Centers for Disease Control updating its mask guidance for vaccinated people, and New York State following suit, many Brooklynites are unsure how to react.

The health panel earlier this month declared that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks in most situations, and on May 19, New York relaxed its state-wide mask mandate in tandem with the updated guidelines.

The new guidelines allow any inoculated New Yorker to do as they please without a mask, except in close quarters where they could face exposure to unvaccinated individuals. In a press briefing on that Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that includes places such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and subways or buses.

“It’s just common sense,” hizzoner said.

But, rather than casting their face coverings into the wind, many of the borough’s inhabitants are keeping their masks close, especially as most businesses still require them.

Alicia, left, and Marcus Brandon smile with their children on Vanderbilt Avenue on May 19.Photo by Caroline Ourso

Marcus and Alicia Brandon, a married couple who were walking through Prospect-Lefferts Gardens on May 20, say they have no plans to stop mask-wearing indoors, and can foresee wearing them for years after the pandemic. 

“I will probably always wear it on the subway, especially for flu season,” said Alicia.

Marcus added that he hopes masks become ingrained into American culture, similarly to the way they are in Asian cultures. 

“I would like for America to adopt masks as part of the culture,” he said. 

Judith Essien, co-owner of Chokmah Inc. Hair Lab, gives Matt Ferrran a fresh cut on May 20.Photo by Caroline Ourso

For now, most of the borough’s businesses also seem to be keeping with their mask requirements, such as Chokmah Hair Lab in Bedford-Stuyvesant. 

“As a business owner, I just don’t trust it,” said owner Judith Essien. “I’m going to keep my mask on indoors until three or four months from now and see what happens.”

A young child busks while wearing a mask in Prospect Park on May 19.Photo by Caroline Ourso

According to the most recent data, 41.7 percent of adults in New York are fully vaccinated, while just over half of all adults in the United States are. Approximately 44 percent of Brooklynites were inoculated against the virus as of May 27.