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COVID: Mask Uncertainty Reigns As Bay Area Health Officials Push To Loosen Guidelines

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- The White House's chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci says he's open to loosening more mask guidelines as more than half the country has had at least one dose.

Some top health officials are starting to call for more "liberal rules" on mask mandates indoors.

As that transition plays out, psychologists are also seeing the effects of not being certain, about when to cover up.

The question of whether to mask up or not, as mandates loosen up, can be an easy one for many.

"We have to use our logic. Masks are not required if you do vaccines if you don't have any risks," said Giuseppe, who's visiting San Francisco from Miami.

"I won't take it off unless there's nobody around me even though I'm fully vaccinated so that others around me are comfortable as well," said Ashley, a San Francisco resident.

But for others, it's not that simple.

"It's creating a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for a lot of people," said Dr. Claire Nicogossian, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University.

"We're coming down on that other side, and right now, people are back to kind of where we were in the beginning of not knowing how to conform to these new standards," said Nicogossian.

Masks are still required indoors in California and the Bay Area, but talk of relaxing indoor mandates for highly vaccinated cities is growing.

"You look at San Francisco, 20 cases a day, more than 70 percent of the population vaccinated. Very good testing in place. They don't need mask ordinances indoors anymore and certainly not outside," said Dr. Scott Gotlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration.

Nicogossian believes two groups in particular are having the most difficulty, those with anxiety issues and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Grappling with the issue for many is normal, she says, but understanding others choices is key.

"Be kind to your people in the Community and don't make assumptions about why someone's wearing a mask or not," said Nicogossian.

A recently released Ipsos poll finds more vaccinated Americans are shedding the mask when outside their homes with 63 percent saying they still always wear one.

That's down from 74 percent just a few weeks ago in mid-April.

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