Covid Masking: What It’s Like Now That Many Have Moved On

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Ms. Keith avoids restaurants and always wears a mask indoors. Her children mask at school. She has no health conditions that would put her at higher Covid risk, but she has had Covid once, suffered from lingering symptoms and has no time to be sick, she said.

The hardest part, Ms. Keith said, has been feeling out of step with the circle of liberal-leaning friends who once shared her own family’s Covid-safety protocols. Now, some of the people with whom she had commiserated over an Iowa law that prohibited schools from requiring masks are no longer routinely wearing masks themselves.

At a synagogue where masks were once required, Ms. Keith found herself and her family almost alone in wearing them for her daughter’s consecration ceremony. And though she allowed herself to be coaxed by a friend into going to a bar to watch a World Cup game, a social activity she especially missed this year, she said she felt incapable of enjoying the usual soccer camaraderie.

“I just felt like, ‘What are we doing here? Nothing has changed. Covid is still not ‘just a cold,’’’ Ms. Keith said.

For people like the friend, Steve Wilke-Shapiro, navigating the resistance of people with whom they were once in lock step is also a new challenge. Mr. Wilke-Shapiro, an architect, said he had become resigned to getting Covid, and that with vaccinations and booster shots, he would “do what I can to avoid it and still for the most part do the things I enjoy doing.’’

“I told her it would be fun, there would be people there she hadn’t seen in a while,’’ he recalled. But when she declined to return for the next game, he did not push back. “I try to read the room,’’ he said.

Sometimes family members and friends can get a little exasperated by the hyper concern. Rafael Oro, 64, a business analyst in Union, N.J., said he has chafed at his wife’s continuing caution. While he is ready to return to prepandemic routines, “we have yet to see a play,” he noted.

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