'We're not out of the woods yet': Masks will continue to be essential long into vaccine rollout

Richard Reeve
Updated: January 17, 2021 10:27 PM
Created: January 17, 2021 10:18 PM

What began as a pandemic necessity, has become a personal line of defense. 

"I would hope people around me will wear a mask,” Bloomington resident David Olsen said. ”And I’ll definitely do the same." 

“I don't think we know enough at all, and we don't know what's coming,”hospice care social worker Britt Balse added. “I think there's still more to come."

At Buddy Michaelson’s mask store in Bloomington, Rocketman Face Masks, the notion of when to ditch masks as the vaccine rollout accelerates is on the minds of many customers. 

“So far, at 21 years old, I’ve made over 70,000 masks for the community,” Michaelson said. “My business is going well. Sadly still, with the vaccine, people are buying masks, knowing this will be around for a while.”  

Olsen, who occasionally travels outside Minnesota for business, says he will continue taking precautions. 

"The vaccine's nice, but it's still going to be a while before I'm going to feel real safe,” he said. “It won't surprise me if there'll be some people, once they're vaccinated, will think they're in the clear, but we won't necessarily know who's had a shot or not.” 

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Dr. Abe Jacob, M Health Fairview’s chief quality officer, says there is good news about the vaccine. 

"We know that people that get the vaccine that your risk of getting disease goes down 95%,” he said. 

But Jacob adds even after two vaccine doses, it could take weeks for your body to develop immunity. And he says more research needs to be done about whether people can still spread the virus to others after both doses. 

"We still don't know if you could still be infectious,” Jacob said. “Even though you're not going to get sick, you could still spread the virus to coworkers or your family."

That’s something Balse says she doesn’t want to do to her family or her clients.  

"People are assuming that because I've already had a dose, that I'm going to take my mask off and hang out,” she declares. “But it's not that way because the rest of my family, for example, doesn't have a dose."

Jacob says “we are seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic.” He believes we could be talking about getting back to normal by the end of summer or early fall. 

Michaelson and his customers say they’re looking forward to that day.   

"You know I heard Buddy say more than once, he can't wait 'til he closes the store up,” Olsen says. “That we don't need masks anymore."


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