Region 1 announces it will follow CDC mask update: spurs confusion in community

Telling vaccinated people they can ditch their masks signals the power of shots, but the update is difficult to implement for people not fully protected
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The inside of many area businesses fill with people wearing masks, while others aren’t - bringing new found confusion for residents in the Stateline.

“I assumed maybe they weren’t enforcing it, so I took my mask off and walked around,” said Susan Emery,, a Rockford resident.

For Emery, Region 1′s recommendation to follow the latest Center for Disease Control mask update sparks uncertainty.

“I went to America’s Best, and they’re still taking your temperature at the door,” said Emery. “At Woodman’s, they say masks are encouraged, but they aren’t enforcing it.”

Emery said she’s been fully vaccinated. According to CDC guidance, she should be allowed to enter stores without a mask. But Winnebago County Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell said individual businesses can still enforce their own mask requirements - regardless of vaccination status.

“It’s an honor system,” said Martell. “The science tells us these vaccines are very effective.”

Walmart, Costco, Target and Starbucks updated its mask policies, saying they aren’t needed if you’re fully vaccinated.

But the mask update raises a few challenges, like when Emery went into America’s Best.

“They make you sign something and say, do you have COVID? You say yes or no, and of course you’re going to say no,” said Emery. “Which is stupid.”

Martell said many of these businesses aren’t checking for proof of vaccination, saying the update is difficult to implement, especially for people not fully protected. Martell said it’s important to wear your mask if you’re not vaccinated yet.

“We’re in that final milestone,” said Martell. “Let’s not drop the baton. We have to haul this thing over the line.”

Health experts said to have your mask handy if you’re out and about and an establishment asks people to wear a face covering. Places still requiring you to wear a mask include correctional facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and public transportation units.

For more information, visit the CDC’s website.

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