First of all, Happy Solstice! At 03:32 UTC tonight (20:32 PDT, 23:32 EDT) we were at the point where the Sun is at the highest point relative to the North Pole due to the Earth’s 23.4° tilt relative to its orbital plane. In other words, the longest amount of daylight and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest amount of daylight and the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. From here on out, the days get shorter a bit more every day, until the situation is reversed and the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest daylight on Tuesday, December 21st, at 07:59 PST.
It’s a cyclic thing.
California has officially come out of the pandemic lockdown and as of Tuesday, June 15th, in most places masks are no longer required for fully vaccinated people.
Key words in there – “in most places,” “required,” and “for fully vaccinated people.”
I thought it would be interesting to see how many folks are still wearing masks in general today. In this section of California, compliance with the mask and social distancing mandate has been pretty darn good in most places. I don’t recall seeing a single unmasked person in the grocery store or any other indoor space in well over a year. Granted, I haven’t been out that much at all, mainly just to the grocery store once a week and the odd other store run here and there. But I figured that now that the mask requirements have been lifted, we’ll start seeing folks ditching the masks. I was curious as to how fast it will happen.
Places like the gas station, where you’re outdoors to begin with? I was sure that we would start seeing masks being a rare thing. Much to my surprise, I haven’t seen it yet. The last time I got gas, last Sunday, everyone at the pumps, without exception, was masked up. Let’s say that it was a pleasant surprise.
At the grocery store last week and this, I again was pleasantly surprised to see all employees and all customers masked up. I’m betting that a lot of places, particularly those handling food, will keep requiring their employees to be masked for some time, just to reassure their customers that it’s safe. (And health care and hospital facilities are exception to the lifting of the mask mandate – EVERYONE’s still required to be masked up there, and my money says that requirement will stick for quite a while.) But I was sure that this week I would see at least one or two of the 50-60 customers in the grocery store going unmasked – nope, not yet!
At the restaurant where I pick up our to-go breakfast every week, it was packed due to Father’s Day and folks who were eating were of course unmasked. But of those waiting for a table or waiting to pay or waiting for a pickup order, all except for two young guys (20-ish?) were masked.
So we’ll see how long this goes on. I think there are a lot of other variables, in particular how the Delta variant affects infection, hospitalization, and death rates. We’re down to less than 10 deaths a day in LA County, and while that’s not zero, it’s a LOT better than the hundreds and hundreds per day that we saw just five or six months ago. But if Delta doesn’t cause a huge fourth wave, opening up the theaters and ballparks to full capacity doesn’t trigger a new outburst, and more and more people can finally get convinced to get vaccinated, we’ll see if mask usage becomes an “only when required” (i.e, hospitals, public transportation, etc) item within a few weeks.
Personally? I’ll still be wearing one in public and indoors for a while longer. I want to start getting outside for more exercise ASAP and I’ll carry one them should I end up in a crowd or indoors someplace (i.e., stopping at 7-11 to get something to drink while out on a walk or run) but I won’t use it or need it when I’m just walking down the sidewalk. On the other hand, any time I’m in a situation, indoors or outdoors, where someone else asks me to put a mask on, I will. It’s not a big deal.
As for anyone who wants to ask me why I’m still wearing a mask indoors when it’s not required? Well, they’re “special,” in particular those who want to be in your face out of nowhere about something that’s absolutely none of their god damn business, so they’ll get full frontal snark right between the eyes from the beginning. Just sayin’.