Is It Safe to Be Without Your Mask?


Updated on Nov 26, 2021

In the summer of 2021, Michigan lifted many COVID-19 restrictions, including masking mandates. The CDC also eased up on its recommendations for masking – especially for fully vaccinated people – with two exceptions: 1) You have a weakened immune system or 2) You live in an area with substantial to high transmission of COVID-19.

So should you be wearing a mask to stay safe? If so, where and when?

Unfortunately, not only is our state experiencing a record COVID-19 surge (Michigan has the highest COVID-19 rate to date in the U.S.), but our community positivity rate exceeds our state average.  Given this current surge, masking is more important than ever before. In fact, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently issued a public health advisory urging all Michiganders over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status, to mask in certain settings. 

Where You Should Be Masking

man wearing mask at work Regardless of whether you’re fully vaccinated, you should wear a mask in the following places: 

  • Public indoor places, such as grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants/bars, or your workplace. 
  • Crowded outdoor settings or activities that put you in closer proximity with people who may have COVID-19.

If you are in between doses or you have not yet received (or cannot yet receive) your COVID-19 vaccine, you’re at greater risk of not just getting and spreading COVID-19, but developing severe symptoms that could lead to hospitalization – so being extra cautious about wearing a mask around others outside your immediate household is incredibly important to protecting your health at this time And even if you've had COVID-19 naturally, there is still a chance of reinfection. 

Do Masks Work?

Early on in the pandemic, when COVID-19 was still being studied, there was some confusion over the effectiveness of masking among public health officials. Thanks to growing research, we now know that masks do indeed prevent spread and infection – especially when everyone is wearing them. 

Hear from our infectious disease expert Christopher Ledtke, MD, why masking is critical during this time, regardless of whether or not you’re fully vaccinated.


Where & How to Get   the COVID-19 Vaccine

Mask-Wearing Tips

  • If you wear washable masks, choose those with multiple layers (two or more) of breathable fabric, like cotton.
  • Discard disposable masks after one-time use. 
  • Wash your reusable mask at least once per day – by hand (with soap and water) or in a washing machine. 
  • Avoid masks with built-in ventilators, where virus particles can escape
  • Winter scarves or ski masks should be worn over your mask. 
  • Men – Shave or trim your beard to avoid gapping.
  • Masks with gaps – or that don’t cover your nose or mouth – are ineffective. 
  • Don’t mask children under the age of 2.

For more mask-wearing tips, click here

Other Science-Backed Ways to Prevent COVID-19

Get vaccinated. While there’s a small possibility for a breakthrough infection, vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe symptoms and COVID-induced hospitalization. At Munson Healthcare, the vast number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. History proves that we can end this pandemic through vaccination. Here’s how:

Keep Your Distance. Physical distancing of six feet or more from others outside your immediate household ensures that germs won’t reach you via airborne droplets that come from natural occurrences like coughing, talking, or laughing. 

Practice routine handwashing. Proper handwashing with soap and water for 20+ seconds is a great way to kill potentially harmful germs that could make their way into your mouth, nose, or eyes and cause you to become ill with diseases like the flu or COVID-19. And when you can’t access soap and water, hand sanitizer works too

Questions? Ask a Nurse!

Questions or concerns about COVID-19 or any other health-related issue? A Munson Healthcare nurse is standing by and ready to help. Call Ask-A-Nurse any time to speak with a registered nurse. This service is FREE and no insurance is required.

Ask-A-Nurse   231-935-0951