Changing mask policies spur fears about those unvaccinated and unmasked

Polls in Texas show many of the people who are unmasked in public may also be unvaccinated. 

Many retailers including Target and Starbucks are now following updated mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and putting customers on the honor system. People don’t have to wear a mask inside the business if they are fully vaccinated. 

But no one is really checking.

"How can you check? At this point, there is really no good way to do that. You really do have to take people at their word," said Parkland Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Chang.

In April, a Texas Tribune poll found vaccine-hesitant Texans were much more likely to consider social activities safer than those who have been or plan to be vaccinated. 

So are they putting others at risk? 

"Listen, if you are vaccinated, you are safe. Take a deep breath. It’s alright," Dr. Chang said. "No. 2 what I would say is this. The data now is becoming more and more solid, more and more clear. It is clear now that hospitalizations are of people who are unvaccinated. Studies have come out to show that well over 99.5-99.8% of folks that are hospitalized now with COVID have not been vaccinated."

He also noted that nearly 300 million doses of the vaccine have been given in the United States and deaths from the vaccine are close to zero. Meanwhile, thousands are still dying from COVID-19.

In the end, Dr. Chang said masks really aren’t worth the fight.

"Guys, let’s give a little grace. Let’s give a little compassion. Whatever side of this issue you are on, let’s not cause more problems by getting in fights," he said. "The point that all of us need to continue to make to our friends and those in our circles that we have influence over is that, ‘Hey, listen. I’m vaccinated. I feel pretty good. I’ve got that force field around me that you and I have already talked about. But I care about you. I care about you because you are my loved one or my friend. I want you to have the same safety as me.’ And that’s the message." 

Treat others with compassion – with or without the mask, he said.