Experts say it could be months before people are comfortable without face masks

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's been two days since the CDC updated its mask guidance for fully vaccinated people. Under this change, you don't have to wear a face mask outdoors and in most indoor settings.

More than 50% of California residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In San Francisco, the numbers are even better. 60% of the population 16 and older are fully vaccinated. Every person we interviewed was vaccinated.

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"It's been exactly three weeks since my second shot," said San Francisco resident, Natalie Blardony.

California has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the nation. In an email to ABC7 News, CADPH said, "We are reviewing the CDC guidance and will share updates accordingly."

San Francisco resident, Jack McClellan is fully vaccinated and says the state should follow the data.

"They were talking a lot about following the science and I feel like the science is now clear that you shouldn't have to wear it outside," said McClellan.

UCSF's infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi believes every day California doesn't change its mask mandate, it's sending a conflicting message.

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Several major retailers said they are ready to lift mask requirements for vaccinated customers once California and local health departments follow the new CDC guidance.



"I'm not sure what has made California, in a way, more restrictive than the CDC," said Dr. Gandhi and added, "There is going to be a point where cases are so low that even unvaccinated people are protected. Why are they protected? Because there will be hardly any cases."

Data shows that it takes 21 days to build a habit. In California, we've been wearing face masks since June 2020. So, now after almost a year of this habit how long will it take it to break it?

"A couple months for people to get use to removing their mask," said Andrea Zorbas, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist and founder of Therapy Now.

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Dr. Zorbas says there's a psychological shock that can happen after removing the mask.

"Every body has a different risk tolerance and so those that have been the most afraid during COVID are going to be the ones that are going to struggle to have more cognitive flexibility around that guidelines are changing," said Dr. Zorbas and added, "Those who maybe have a higher risk tolerance that haven't been as scared during the pandemic are going to have more flexibility."

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San Francisco resident Natalie Blardony says the data is what makes her feel comfortable when it comes to removing the mask.

"It almost feels like I'm going out naked," said Blardony.

Dr. Zorba's advice, "To challenge that. We have research now that shows that if you are vaccinated its okay to be outside without a mask and so reminding ourselves of that."

For now those who are fully vaccinated are waiting on the state.

"I think I feel comfortable removing my mask," said Tom Canney, San Francisco resident.

Also, hoping to remove his mask soon is Oakland resident, Eric Jones, "At some point life must return to normal."


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