Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Emergency Physician, UM Prince George’s Hospital Center, joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down her thoughts on New York lifting mask mandate to align with CDC guidance.
So Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne, she is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Emergency Physician. Dr. Clayborne, thanks for joining us here once again. So the CDC's decision being met by some criticism by some people. We're hearing more and more retailers come out saying that they are no longer requiring people to wear masks now inside their stores, like Anjalee was just telling us. Should we feel, if we are vaccinated, should we feel 100% safe, going into these stores and being around people without a mask?
ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: Well, I think the takeaway from the recent news from the CDC referring the masking is that, really, if you're vaccinated, you're safe. And if you're not vaccinated, you're not safe. And if you're on the fence and you're still concerned after being vaccinated, there's no harm in continuing to wear a mask. I tell people all the time, if you are feeling like you're at an increased risk or you just don't feel quite comfortable yet going without a mask, continue to wear that mask. There is not a downside to wearing it.
I think that they are just trying to respond to the data they're seeing that's showing that it is likely more safe for people who are vaccinated to go unmasked, but I understand that hesitation and concern for a lot of people, which is why I encourage those who are still concerned to just continue wearing their masks.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Doctor, you just said it very simply. What are our colleagues in the media, what are we getting wrong here? It doesn't seem confusing at all. Wear a mask if you're not vaccinated. If you are vaccinated outdoors or inside, you're OK if you don't wear a mask. If you want to keep wearing it, it's up to the business to decide if you have to or not. That seems pretty simple.
ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: Absolutely, and I think that we're overcomplicating the issue by kind of, I think, focusing on the wrong thing, right? I took this release as hopefully encouragement for more people to get a vaccine, right? Is letting you know what privileges you might have or openness and freedom that you might be able to return to if you get vaccinated. And so, the name of the game in us returning as a country and a world to any sense of normalcy is being vaccinated.
And so I think the takeaway from all this mask news should be get a vaccine. If you're still on the fence about a vaccine, talk to somebody who you trust, a trusted healthcare provider, someone in your family, someone in your community who's already been vaccinated. Look at the data that continues to come out that shows the safety and efficacy of these vaccines and consider getting vaccinated. Because the only path forward to us returning to normal as a world-- and we are so dependent on everyone doing this because it cannot happen without, basically, the pandemic being controlled globally-- is to vaccinate. And so I like to just get back to the science and back to the clear details that are important, which is, vaccines are making things more safe. Please consider vaccinating.
SEANA SMITH: I guess the one thing that people are just trying to struggle with are people like me who have a child who isn't as old enough to get a vaccine yet. They're trying to figure out whether or not they should feel comfortable bringing that child into a restaurant, bringing that child to the grocery store, now that no longer requires a mask. Is that something that people should feel comfortable doing?
ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: Yes, and I have two small children. So I totally identify with the concern that a lot of parents have. And I think that as a community, this is why it is important for all of us, in addition to encouraging each other to vaccinate, that we need to hold each other accountable. So the concern is really that people without vaccines will use this mandate as a cover to go unmasked even if they are not vaccinated. And that does make things risky, and that does open up vulnerable populations who are not vaccinated to get, like our younger kids, to getting COVID.
And so I do think for now, if you're concerned as a parent, go ahead and put a mask on your kid and continue masking. Because that will provide you a degree of protection. But overall, because our case loads are going down, because the incidence that we're seeing of new COVID cases seems to be improving as we continue to roll out this vaccine, I do think that parents can feel more comfortable going out into public, especially in open air places, without a mask. But again, if it just makes you feel more comfortable, that is a very low threshold, a very easy thing that you can do, which is just put a mask on your kid and yourself if you want that extra degree of protection.
ADAM SHAPIRO: And doctor, wouldn't it-- picking up on what Seana said, wouldn't it make sense for those of us who were vaccinated, out of respect for parents who have young kids, wear the masks until kids have been vaccinated? I mean, look, we didn't have the flu this year in the United States, right? If there's any kind of indication we should wear masks, perhaps whenever on the subway or the bus, there it is, right?
ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: Absolutely, and I think that that's a good point. I found it interesting that the day that this announcement came out, I went to the grocery store. And nearly every person I was around still had a mask on, even though technically at that point, probably, it was optional. And so, I think that the CDC is providing guidelines based on data. But that's just data. The actions that you take personally can be guided by what you feel more comfortable with and how you want to protect yourself and those in your community.
And so, again, I don't feel that it is that cumbersome, right, for me to wear a mask. So if it's something that's going to protect myself, my family, and my children, who are not yet vaccinated, then I will probably consider just continuing masking, especially since as a healthcare worker, I still am coming into contact with a lot more COVID positive individuals than other people. So as a courtesy to others, I continue to mask. So it is an option you can always consider. I think that if you're on the fence, just be conservative and continue to wear your mask. But most importantly, encourage you and everyone around you to get the vaccine.
SEANA SMITH: Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne, always great to have you on Yahoo Finance. We look forward to speaking with you again soon.