Mask confusion: How Michigan navigated a weekend of new COVID orders

Mask confusion: How Michigan navigated a weekend of new COVID orders

Others, however, weren’t as convinced this was rushed.

“It was overdue,” said Mustafa “Mark” Hamed, an emergency room physician and president of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

Vaccines have begun driving down case rates, and the coming warm weather will further compress rates, he said. Lifting restrictions for the fully vaccinated is a well-timed “carrot” rather than a “stick,” nudging others toward a vaccination, he said.

“You’re giving people incentives” to get the vaccine, Hamed said, and “putting the trust factor in there; trusting people to do the right thing.”

University of Michigan epidemiologist Aubree Gordon agreed, though she said lifting restrictions “feels a bit early to me.”

It won’t change the minds of those adamantly opposed to vaccines, she said, but for those who just haven’t taken the time, it might nudge them to drop in a local drugstore.

In the meantime, business owners and managers spent the weekend trying to navigate what was best for patrons, staff and their bottom line without “getting people more riled up than they already are,” said Kerry Ott, spokesperson for the LMAS Health Department, which covers four counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

At Lambertville Hardware in Southeast Michigan, employees stripped the “masks required” signs off the door about 7:30 a.m. Saturday, said owner Evelyn Oswald.

A wee bit early, she acknowledged, but, “Hey, we figured it was 9 o’clock somewhere.”

Oswald said she was thrilled to be rid of hot, uncomfortable masks that hid the faces of the customers she’s gotten to know over 50 years at this small-town, family business.

The CDC guidance would help bring to an end, she said, more than a year of “confusion and sometimes rudeness.”

Many customers had been annoyed they had to wear masks. Others refused to be served by the store’s cashier, who she said couldn’t wear a mask because of severe asthma.


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