Dr. Robert Wachter is a professor and chair of the department of medicine at UC San Francisco. He’s also 64 years old, so even though he’s vaccinated and boosted, he understands that he’s still at risk of contracting COVID.

He just needs to decide whether or not the benefits of not masking outweigh the risks. And he’s taken to the Washington Post to offer some insight into how he’s making that decision in the hopes that he can help others do the same:

Are we sure we’re ready for this sort of responsibility?

In the past few weeks, the tide of government coronavirus mandates has clearly turned. Pretty soon, nobody will be forced to wear a mask in most indoor spaces. But that only shifts the decision onto the individual, so the question remains: Should you wear one?

Is your mind blown? Wait until you read Dr. Wachter’s conclusion:

I tell you this whole soggy dog story not because it’s unusual, but because it’s not: It’s the kind of scenario that tens of millions of people have been grappling with since March 2020. The difference is that now, as the rules are stripped away, the decisions become entirely personal.

It’s understandable why, faced with this much math and angst, many folks have decided that going maskless everywhere is less stressful and safe enough. I wouldn’t argue with fully vaccinated people who choose to discard their masks in indoor settings. Odds are they’ll do fine. As for me, I loved the party, kept the virus at bay — though one attendee got covid a few days later, possibly from the gathering — and felt good about my decision. The next day I went back to wearing masks indoors and avoiding indoor dining — a decision I feel equally good about, and one that I’ll rethink if and when cases fall some more.

So, basically, Dr. Wachter is suggesting that people decide for themselves whether or not they want to wear masks.

As Dr. Wachter points out, this is a decision that we’ve been faced with for the last two years. For many people, that decision became a lot less difficult when vaccines became an option.

So why is taking personal responsibility suddenly being framed as some bold new concept?

Is it being forced if it’s what you’ve wanted all this time?

Apparently “forced” means different things to different people.


True story.