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Lisa Jarvis

How to Avoid Getting Covid in a Mostly Mask-Free World

Gauging risk is matter of knowing your surroundings, and maybe upgrading your mask for when you need it.

Lots of people are now removing their masks.

Lots of people are now removing their masks.

Photographer: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

This week’s lifting of mask requirements on airplanes and, in many parts of the country, on public transportation is a major turning point in the U.S. pandemic response. From now on, it seems, avoiding or minimizing Covid-19 infection will be a personal endeavor, not a societal one.

This is for some people a welcome shift toward normalcy and for others a cause for anxiety and confusion. Many occupy an awkward middle space between not wanting to throw in the towel and also wanting to break free of some restrictions. About 42% of adults in the U.S. have gone back to some but not all of their pre-pandemic activities, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.