CDC loosens guidelines; some say it won’t affect their mask-wearing

New, looser mask guidelines from the CDC have some bracing for the fallout.

Some Uber and Lyft drivers say the change could make passengers even less willing to wear masks than they already are.

Those drivers are already experiencing pushback. Some passengers still refuse to wear a mask.

Masks are still required on public transportation and that includes ride-shares.

When asked if they will allow an unmasked passenger to ride in their vehicle, one of the drivers shouted, “No, you get out of my car!”

That was the emphatic response from these ride-share drivers, most of whom were originally from East Africa. They were in Seattle’s Central District to pick up free, rapid COVID-19 tests and masks provided by their drivers union.

“Yes, a couple of times,” said Nurayne Fofana, a ride-share driver since 2016.

When we pulled drivers aside, they conceded masks have been an issue. And they have felt compelled to give a passenger a lift, masked or not.

“Because, even if I complain, it could come back on me, it might come back to me,” said Fofana. If a passenger refuses to wear a mask, “I do let them ride.”

He and others say complaints from disgruntled passengers can cost them their ride-share jobs, even if passengers were in the wrong.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Fofana. “And the customer is always right.”

On Friday afternoon, the CDC declared masks are not required indoors where COVID-19 transmission is rapidly dropping. The governor’s office says this state will hold to its March 21 date for removing the requirement for indoor masks. We met some who say they welcome the CDC’s new guidance.

“If the CDC is saying you can drop it, you would think we can go without the mask,” said Dan Johnson, of Burien.

Given the new guidance, will he go without a mask? “Probably,” he said.

But many others say they will continue to mask up.

“I think psychologically, I feel protected,” said Eric Parsons, of Seattle. “So, I’m not ready.”

“Ah, no,” said Bella Yow, a Seattle University student, on whether she would drop her mask. “I’m a nursing student. And I think it’s a precaution. And it’s just good to keep our guards up.”

In fact, the CDC says its guidance could change as new variants show up. Its recommendation is to remain flexible.