CLEVELAND — Major news came out last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevetion when it backpedaled on mask guidelines for people who are vaccinated.
The CDC is now recommending fully vaccinated people should also wear a mask when indoors in areas of “substantial” or “high” transmission.
Right now in Ohio that includes 67 of the state’s 88 counties, according to the updated CDC map. Red stands for “high” transmission, and orange is “substantial” transmission.
Cuyahoga County is considered to have a substainal spread of the virus. Last week, Cleveland’s mayor warned the city could see COVID-19 restrictions return.
Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan took to Twitter to say that based on the new data from the CDC, the agency is now recommending that everyone in the county wear a mask indoors even if you are vaccinated.
That along with spiking COVID-19 cases and delta variant spread has some in the restaurant industry worried that we may be on the brink of more mandates.
Chele is fully vaccinated, but she never stopped wearing a mask.
“I know that that mitigates my risk for becoming really sick if I contract COVID, but I don’t want to contract COVID at all,” she said.
Chele is from Atlanta, Georgia and is visiting Cleveland with her husband for the first time.
“We are loving it. It’s wonderful and we’re already talking about when we’re going to come back,” she said.
As a self-described avid traveler, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to feel safe in different cities.
“When I’m out and about in the public I can’t know if others are vaccinated,” said Chele. “If you go into the Publix grocery store in Florida, no one has a mask on. If you go into a Publix grocery store in Atlanta, everyone has a mask on.”
The couple enjoyed a drink at Collision Bend Brewing Company, a local favorite in the Flats downtown along the Cuyahoga River.
“We are excited to be able to get back out and be safe and for me, that means wearing a mask,” she said.
But if you looked around the restaurant, she was one of the only people wearing a mask.
“We really needed to have a good summer this summer, so thanks for being a part of it,” said General Manager Michael Grano to a table of guests.
“I would consider us at normal right now, and I just would like to stay normal,” he said.
It’s no secret COVID-19 has hit the bar and restaurant industry hard, between closures and limited capacity and the constantly changing restrictions.
“I have concerns because we want to be safe,” said Grano. “We want to be safe for our guests and we want our employees to be safe.”
He said most of his staff is vaccinated, but the latest CDC mask guidelines that recommend even vaccinated people should wear a mask when indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission have those in the restaurant business like Grano on edge.
“I wish I had that magic 8-ball,” said Grano.
Grano is hopeful that more reversed guidelines don’t follow so the community can continue to bounce back.
“I don’t look forward to masks coming back,” he said. “You know, we’ll follow any guidelines so we can stay open. I would like not to shut down again.”
Regardless of what the CDC recommends, Chele doesn’t know what it will take for her to feel comfortable in public without a mask. But she’s eager for that day to come.
“I don’t have an answer for that yet. I’m not sure. I’ve never been through this before, right? None of us have,” said Chele.