COVID313 Virtual Town Hall moderator Rajeshri Bhatia got an encouraging answer when she asked two physicians specializing in infectious diseases if they’re comfortable taking their masks off in public.

“I was on vacation up north, I did not wear a mask at all,” said Dr. Dennis Cunningham with the Henry Ford Health System. “The people I was staying with, all of us were vaccinated.”

“It depends for me,” said Dr. Linda Nabha. “I have two young children, so when I take them to the grocery store they’re wearing masks.”

Nabha, who’s with the University of Pittsburgh said she wears a mask too in solidarity with her children, but masks depend on where she goes.
Since her children haven’t been vaccinated and also has immunocompromised family members, she’s remained cautious

“If you’re in a place outside and vaccination rates are high, I feel pretty comfortable taking off my mask,” she said.

Nabha and Cunningham recommend those who’ve had COVID-19 get the vaccine.

“The vaccine probably gives better protection and longer protection,” Cunningham said, “at least the preliminary data is very favorable for that.”

Health professionals are tracking the Delta variant of the virus which is taking hold in Michigan where about 20 percent of all infections are from that variant, although the vaccines appear to be effective against it.

“It’s the first time two separate mutations that are already out there have combined into one virus.”The Delta variant might be very easily transmitted but there’s not a lot of data on in yet according to Cunningham.

“It’s all about reducing your risk,” Nabha said. “If you’re in a part of the state where the vaccination rates are higher, feel a little more safe about that.”

But, Nabha said, people who are fully vaccinated and have a normal immune system need not worry so much about vaccination rates where they visit.

Hear more from the doctors in the COVID313 Virtual Town Hall highlight, including what they think about masks for students as they return to school in the fall and what they think about where we are now on ‘herd immunity’ when enough people have been vaccinated to end the pandemic.

Join the COVID313 Community Coalition for Families and Students for a virtual town hall every Thursday at noon, presenting experts and discussing issues as Detroiters navigate their way through the pandemic and its aftermath.