Mint Hill Responds To New CDC Guidance

Share this:

MINT HILL, NC – On Thursday, May 13, the director of the CDC announced in a White House COVID-19 press briefing that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors in small or large groups.  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper quickly followed suit on Friday by lifting all mandatory capacity and gathering limits, social distancing requirements and most mandatory mask requirements.  

The new guidelines represent a massive shift from just two and a half weeks earlier when the CDC announced that vaccinated individuals could go unmasked safely only in outdoor, low-density settings and with small groups of other vaccinated individuals.  Such a massive about-face in such a short time has left business owners and individuals confused and apprehensive.

Mask signage on door
Mint Hill Roasting Company plans to continue to ask customers to wear masks in the store.

“Yesterday, the CDC said you must wear a mask. Today, you don’t need one,” said Mint Hill Roasting Company Owner Annette Smith shortly after the announcement.  “What changed overnight? Just a month ago, they were saying if you’re vaccinated, it’s OK to be around other vaccinated people.  I’m sure they have scientists who have done lots of research, and they know way more than we do on this, but it just seems too quick.”

“We are unsure what all of this means,” said Goodness Gracious owner Pam Eggleston as she struggled to process the changes.  “How do we know if the maskless people are vaccinated?  It’s really a scary situation right now. I get my second shot this Friday, but do we put ourselves at risk by not requiring masks, no matter what?  People are still getting COVID even after they’ve had their vaccinations.”

Real world evidence regarding COVID-19 vaccines has confirmed what clinical trials have already shown: all three vaccines currently being distributed in the United States are incredibly effective.  According to Healthline, breakthrough infections do occur, but they are rare and likely to be mild.  Moreover, it’s unlikely that vaccinated individuals carry enough of the virus to transmit it to others. 

Yet, many people hesitant to shed their masks continue to cite concerns about being around unmasked, unvaccinated people.  “Sure, I’ve been vaccinated, and I have a card,” says Woof ‘n Hoof Owner Patrick Holton, “but how do you know who has and who hasn’t unless they make you start wearing them around our necks or something?”

The Gift Workshop Owner Kat DePrater points out that although all adults are eligible to receive a vaccine, not everyone is able to for a variety of reasons.  Moreover, some vaccinated individuals may have medical conditions that put them at high risk for complications from COVID-19, making even a slim chance of infection an unacceptable risk. 

“For me, wearing a mask protects some of our shoppers that are still at risk health-wise and maybe couldn’t get the vaccine,” says DePrater.  “I don’t think you should have to be homebound because you can’t get vaccinated, so if that’s one thing we can do to help that population feel more comfortable and to have some sense of normalcy as well, then that to me is a really small thing we can do.”

Masked child in Build-a-Bear
The new guidance is complicated for parents of young children, who can’t yet be vaccinated.

The guidance is also somewhat confusing for parents of young children.  Although parents themselves may be fully vaccinated, COVID vaccines are currently only available to individuals 12 and older.  Although children are at low risk of serious complications from COVID-19, even the slim possibility of bringing the virus home while vaccinated is enough to give some parents pause.

“We are fully vaccinated, but our kids aren’t,” says mom of two Kayla Duehring.  “I know they are low risk, but if they were to get very sick, they won’t understand what’s going on. So, we do it for them until they can be vaccinated safely or until we feel safer about it.”

“If it were just me, I’d probably be more willing to go maskless,” continues Duehring, “but I’d probably still have some reservations.  I have a sinking feeling this is going to cause a spike in cases, and I worry about variants popping up that the vaccine may not cover.”

Duehring isn’t the only parent holding on to her mask for now.  “We will still be restricting things we do including eating out and going places indoors,” says Kayla Sanford, who is currently expecting her second child. I take my 20 month old to the park and an indoor gym here and there, but that’s it. My husband and I are vaccinated but will still distance ourselves from others.”

Like many people who offered their opinions for this article, Sanford admits that she’s not exactly sure what she’s waiting for.  “Nothing in particular really,” she says when asked what would be enough for her to relax her precautions.  “I just know there are a lot of people who haven’t gotten the vaccine, and the possibility is still there for my son to get sick. And I know that risk is very very low, but I also don’t feel like we are missing out on anything either.”

Masked child in Target
Many large retailers like Target have dropped their mask mandates.

Recently documented by NPR, a lack of mask mandates has left many business owners to make and enforce their own rules.  While national chains like Target, Walmart and Costco have dropped their mask requirements and tossed their signage, many local small businesses are hesitant to let go of a measure of protection that has come to feel like second nature.

“I think for me, I’ll keep it,” says DePrater of the mask mandate.  “I think COVID was a huge eye-opener as to how susceptible we are.  We’ve always been so concerned about acts of terrorism with weapons, and I think now we’re learning that acts of terrorism can happen medically, too, and how susceptible we are to a virus from another country.  It can kill our economy; it can kill a generation.”

Masked children seated in Mint Hill Roasting Company
Mint Hill Roasting Company plans to continue to ask customers to wear masks in the store.

“I’ve been thinking about this all morning,” said Smith on Friday.  “I would say right now my plan is that we’re still going to have the “Mask Required” signs, and we would encourage customers to continue to wear their masks.”  Dropping the statewide mandate, however, leaves a little more wiggle room.  “Before it used to be a little bit more critical,” continues Smith.  If someone walked in without a mask, we would say, ‘I’m sorry, do you have a mask?  Can we get one for you?’  We probably won’t do that now, so it won’t be as ‘mandated.’”

“Would you as a consumer be comfortable taking your mask off?” she asks.  “I think it’s really tough.  It’s a really tough position to be in, and I don’t know how to really manage it yet. I think we’re just going to kind of see wait and see.”

For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit the CDC at

Share this: