People who continue wearing face coverings worried about mask shaming

Medical and social reasons for wearing masks remain valid after the end of state mandates
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 7:40 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - As Michigan mostly returns to normal starting Tuesday, some people are still choosing or even needing to wear a face mask.

That has some people concerned about what’s being called “mask shaming.” Basically, it’s people being shunned for continuing to wear a mask in public, despite restrictions being lifted.

Those who continue wearing a mask ask others to think before they speak.

”People just don’t always know your situation and they’re quick to assume,” said Karen Hillman, a medical receptionist at the Genesee Community Health Center. “If I wear my mask, then they assume I’m not vaccinated. But then if I’m out in public without my mask, you don’t know.”

She is fully vaccinated, but she’s going to continue to wear a mask when she’s out in public. She doesn’t want the potential social consequences like mask shaming to come along with it.

The reason why Hillman is going to continue to wear a mask doesn’t really have much to do with her. She’s more concerned about others.

“People with lower immune systems, children -- you’re still trying to prevent the numbers going back up, so better safe than sorry,” she said.

Dr. Son Phung practices family medicine at the Genesee Community Health Center. He wants people to be kind and respectful to others in public who are wearing a mask simply because they just don’t know what someone may be going through.

“Say, for example, cancer. You’ve been receiving treatment and you’re immune system is down. Obviously, you don’t want to be in a scenario when you inhale bacteria or a pathogen that can affect the outcome of the treatment,” Phung said.

He said there are many other medical reasons for wearing a mask, including not being vaccinated. In other cases, people just aren’t comfortable yet and they shouldn’t be penalized or shunned for it.

“Best advice is stay safe and encourage people to get vaccinated so we can keep a lid on this terrible virus,” Phung said.

People need to remember that businesses can require masks or limit capacity even though the statewide mask mandate and capacity restrictions are over beginning Tuesday.

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