MILWAUKEE - While many vaccinated people are eager to ditch their masks in the wake of the CDC's new mask recommendations, the guidelines are cause for concern, not celebration, for others.
Playdates at the park are 4-year-old Maeven and her grandma's go-to safe activity this spring.
"But if we get a little more over the hump, then I’ll feel more comfortable," said Carole Grgich.
Grgich is fully vaccinated. Maevan is too young to be eligible. Like many, the family has in part relied on mask requirements to ensure strangers do not expose Maevan to the virus.
\Now, they have new questions about which places are and are not safe – following the CDC's updated mask guidelines. The health agency gave the green light last week for vaccinated people to ditch the mask in most public indoor settings, while those who are unvaccinated should continue to mask up. In most cases, the guidelines depend on self-enforcement.
"So that’s the new policy right now, the honor system? Hmmm," said Grgich.
Meanwhile, a growing number of major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Costco are doing away with their mask requirements for vaccinated customers and some employees.
Pediatricians worry these relaxed restrictions could increase children's risk of exposure – putting even greater pressure on parents to interpret the rules themselves.
"I think that’s a big concern. We’ve already got wind of people either not admitting or not wanting to admit or fabricating that they’ve been vaccinated," said Dr. Gregory DeMuri, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist for UW Health. "And it does make for a risky situation for children in those environments."
Dr. Gregory DeMuri
For now, experts say unvaccinated children should continue to mask up in public – and parents with babies are urged to keep as much physical distance between them and strangers.
"Well, it’s confusing and I think it’s just another stage and we all have to adapt," Grgich said.
Wisconsin DHS's interim secretary says while she has confidence in the CDC's recommendations, the guidance will likely evolve as vaccination rates and the number of cases also change.