Mask mandates are lifted in the Mid-South, but don’t throw your mask just yet

Memphis, Tenn. — Mask mandates are being lifted across the country, including in Memphis and Shelby County.

But you might want to wait before you toss your face coverings permanently.

One Mid-South infectious disease expert says it’s important not to see the lifting of the mandates as a sign that the pandemic is over.

“I think it’s important to know the vaccines work very well, but they’re not 100 percent,” Infectious disease physician at Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare Dr. Shirin Mazumder said. “There have been cases of breakthrough infections.”

That’s why Dr. Mazumder strongly recommends those with compromised immune systems to keep wearing their masks.

“Whether that’s patients receiving chemotherapy, or patients with auto-immune diseases,” she said. “And we have some data that shows the vaccines don’t work as well on those individuals.”

She said it’s also a good idea to continue to wear them in crowded indoor settings.

Memphians like Karen Bauer said she’s looking forward to the possibility of a future without masks.

“It is something new because we were so used to wearing them, and now it feels a little uncomfortable not to wear them,” Bauer said.

Leaving the house with a mask on has become a habit for many, including Bauer.

But now that Shelby County has lifted most of its mask mandate, she said she feels safe.

“I have it in case I need to enter places, but I have been vaccinated, so I feel safe about it.”

If you haven’t yet been fully vaccinated, both the CDC and Dr. Mazumder said you should continue to wear a mask.