Editor’s Note: Oakland Voices alumnus and correspondent Howard Dyckoff is in the vulnerable age category for COVID-19. He worked inside an office during the pandemic and was able to stay COVID-free. Now that California is slowly re-opening, and masks can come off for those who are vaccinated starting June 15 based on state guidelines, Dyckoff shares how he feels.
My unmasking is a reflection of my long unseen face and also my doubts of the diligence of others. It is a deep reveal and also a flight of deeply differing emotions.
I dreamed hopefully of a new period of openness and normalcy. But here and now, I don’t know if i can trust others I may meet on the street or on a trail…and especially indoors.
I am not 75, but I am close. So I wasn’t in the first tier of vaccinations. I made the second cut, and got vaxxed at the Oakland Coliseum in March. That was a relief, but I soon realized that there were many unvaxxed people walking in regional parks with masks on their chins or carrying unused masks in hand in case a ranger appeared…It was fake compliance and it was deliberate and planned.
That pretending and attempt at deception is as threatening as the virus itself. It has taught me that many people are bending the rules and undermining the ongoing sacrifice of the rest of the community. That is very sad.
I worked at a local Census office through the height of the pandemic, into mid-November. Everyone was masked, everyone had desks at least six feet apart. Everything was wiped down. We were constrained, but no one in my office caught COVID-19. Masking kept us all safe. And that may be why I am not feeling safe being surrounded by unmasked people of uncertain vaccine status.
So I am happy to approach some degree of normalcy…and also I am concerned that I cannot trust those who may approach me. I did not expect to feel this so strongly. But I think I will keep my mask on a little longer and hope that vaccination rates will go beyond 70% in our area.
Get Vaxxed everyone! Then we can transition safely.