’It’s just one of those things we have to do’, local businesses react to changing CDC mask guidelines

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reversed course on some masking guidelines as of Tuesday afternoon – scientists cite new data gathered on the Delta Variant and how it’s spread among even vaccinated individuals.

The Marion County Health Department following suit, recommending all residents wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination history. 

Local Indianapolis businesses are proceeding with caution and say they won’t change the way they currently operate until they’re told otherwise by the county health department in which they operate, as the latest guidance from the CDC is only a recommendation. 

“Right now, it’s not gonna change anything until I hear more from the Marion County Health Department and the CDC,” the owner of Hoagies & Hops Kristina Mazza said. “It’s been challenging from the get-go. In more than just the CDC guidelines… but that obviously has made it challenging not just with my staff but with customers and not knowing how business is gonna be.”

It’s business as usual at Chilly Water Brewing and Hoagies & Hops along Virginia Avenue, despite the recent change of course from the CDC.

“Just like we did before, we had to adapt. You know? We’ve adapted for the past year and a half, we might have to again,” Mazza said. “I can tell ya it’s great to see smiling faces right now.”

But exactly how long it will be until those faces are covered again is anyone’s guess. Vice President of Medical Affairs for Franciscan Health Dr. Christopher Doehring says recommendations may soon become something more serious.

“I would have hoped that after being through this pandemic over a year for most people, masking would just become part of their routine,” Dr. Doehring said. “The virus is not going to be eliminated from the planet and so getting to a point where there’s a comfort level with saying hey, it’s just one of those things we have to do.”

The reason why masks are making a comeback can be easily illustrated when using Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Frank Reich as an example:

“He’d been vaccinated but he also tested positive with no symptoms. So, he was at risk of spreading the virus without even realizing it. He didn’t know he had the virus and so, presumably, if that test is accurate if he’s wearing a mask, he then greatly reduces any risk – even though he’s vaccinated – the remaining risk of spreading the virus to others,” Dr. Doehring said. “I absolutely understand the sort of discouragement and the how this feels like a step backwards but just like we experienced for the first 12 months of this pandemic, this is never been a straight line one way or the other… it’s been up and down the whole time.”

Which is exactly why the CDC says – even if you’re vaccinated – it might be time to cover your face again. 

“What we’re seeing right now, is in fact an increase, there’s no doubt we’re seeing double the number of patients in the hospital, but it’s double a relatively low number. The traditional masks that we’re asking the general public to wear, really is again, about keeping us – the wearer the mask wearer – from inadvertently spreading the virus to others,” Dr. Doehring said. “There will be strains that will be more severe, more contagious and put even more people at more risk if they’re still not vaccinated – and it’s not too late to do so.”

At this point, the guidance from the CDC and county health departments are merely suggestions and recommendations. Restaurants and other businesses have not been ordered to enforce mask-wearing. 

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