A 74 year-old man wearing a baseball cap and baby blue surgical mask stands in front of sign that says Census 2020 and :"six feet apart"
Howard Dyckoff worked at a local Census office during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Howard Dyckoff.

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.

About Howard Dyckoff

Howard Dyckoff has lived in Oakland for over 40 years and has been involved with many community groups, including Oakland Digital and Oakland Local, Block by Block, the East Oakland Boxing Association (EOBA), and CBE. A Brooklyn, New York, transplant, and an Aerospace Engineering graduate of NY Polytechnic, Howard also attended Laney College, where he wrote for the Laney Tower newspaper and was elected editor. Howard also attended the Starr King School at the Theological Union in Berkeley. He has served as the Berkeley Free Clinic’s Outreach Coordinator, and also worked as an information technology professional at Chevron, Sybase, and Wells Fargo. He worked in both the 2010 and 2020 Census. Howard has been a regular contributor to Oakland Local and online publications such as TechTarget and Linux Gazette and currently writes for Oakland Voices. He currently does event photography around the Bay Area. View all posts by Howard Dyckoff →

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