Some people are confused about mask mandates right now. What exactly is going on?
Yeah, there [are] a lot of different kinds of recommendations and people are left trying to [decipher] between them, so I’ll start at the top. If you look at [the] CDC, the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention], and their formal recommendation, that really varies based on where you live. They release these COVID community levels, each week on Thursdays, and you can search by going to covid.gov, you can put in your county and it’ll tell you what the levels in your community are and from there, you can decide. It’ll tell you whether or not you need masks, so that’s the first piece.
With travel, there was the recent judge’s decision, who said you don’t need to follow that CDC recommendation that it was somehow unlawful. We disagree wholeheartedly with that judge and, in fact, the Department of Justice filed an appeal, the recommendation is still from the CDC that folks should wear masks in public transportation spaces, buses, trains, and yes, with airline travel. You have a lot of people from a lot of different communities who are mixing in those spaces [and] that’s a different dynamic, and so the CDC is still assessing and evaluating exactly what that impact looks like, especially now in this setting with Omicron and BA.2 and cases kind of on the rise in some places. So people should just follow that guidance. If you’re doing public transportation, you should wear a mask. In your own community, you should go to covid.gov and see what the recommendation for your county is, that’ll simplify it.
How should Black families respond to mask restrictions being lifted?
A lot of folks have been saying pretty consistently to continue to wear masks. For me, I’m in a community where the risk of transmission is lower, and so the CDC’s formal recommendation is that we don’t have to wear masks. … For other people, they feel really restricted by having to wear masks sometimes, and I can understand that. What I would say is you should then want to test yourself before you go visit any of those loved ones — it’s also about keeping other people safe. This pandemic has had disproportionate harm on Black and Brown communities. We know the way risks play out for us is different and so we’ve got to do some different things, and that includes using these tools that are available to us to the full extent. Definitely take advantage of masks, tests and vaccines because that’s a huge part of keeping our community safe.