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To wear a mask or not to wear a mask: what to know if you’re vaccinated in the desert

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated you can start doing things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic."

On Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky announced the latest federal guidance to relax mask usage for those who are vaccinated. She encouraged those who are immunocompromised to discuss the decision with their doctor to see whether going without a mask is the best option.

After the announcement, several companies including Starbucks, Costco, Trader Joe's, and Walmart followed suit. Many announced they would follow the CDCs mask guidance, unless local and state laws continued to mandate masks.

"We walked in without our mask on. She said, 'Are you vaccinated?' She said, 'Yes,' and walked through the doors," Riverside resident, Lisa Souza said while she and La Quinta resident, Kristin Alvarez came out of the La Quinta Walmart Supercenter.

It appeared that as of Saturday the La Quinta Walmart had already adopted the CDC guidance, and both shoppers were relieved at not having to wear a mask after more than a year.

"It’s amazing, especially out here in the desert with the heat. It’s amazing to not have to wear a mask," said Alvarez. "It’s liberating," Souza said.

Meanwhile, retailers including Kroger, Target and Home Depot announced they would keep their mask policies.

"I still choose to wear my mask and even though it’s lifted in some of the larger stores and other community places I’m probably going to still wear mine," Niland resident, Sue Linboom said.

As of Saturday California's mask mandate still required indoor mask use regardless of vaccination status. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced a lifting of the mandate by June 15, but it was unclear if that decision could come sooner to align with the CDC.

The lingering uncertainty has also raised questions of how to enforce mask rules, considering a slew of brawls and fights have broken out over mask rules.

"I think it’s less likely now because this is coming from the government so probably people tend to really follow the government and the recommendation, Orange County resident, Helen Bagh said.

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.


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