Respondents also said that as long as the virus was still spreading, masks were important to protect high-risk people and those who cannot be vaccinated, like children or people who have underlying health conditions.

“Until community transmission is lower, it protects the whole community and the other people in the room to wear masks,” including children, immunosuppressed people and Black and Latino communities who have been hit harder by Covid-19, said Julia Raifman, an assistant professor of public health at Boston University.

One-quarter of the epidemiologists in the survey said they thought people would need to continue wearing masks in certain settings indefinitely, and some said they planned to continue to wear them in places like airplanes or concert halls, or during the winter virus season.

“Heck, I may wear a mask for every flu season now,” said Allison Stewart, the lead epidemiologist at the Williamson County and Cities Health District in Texas. “Sure has been nice not to be sick for over a year.”

Alana Cilwick, an epidemiologist at the Colorado Department of Public Health, said, “I plan to wear a mask indoors for the foreseeable future given the amount of vaccine hesitancy we are seeing, especially in higher-risk settings like the gym or on an airplane.”

Just one-fifth of epidemiologists said it was safe for fully vaccinated people to socialize indoors without masks in a group of unlimited size. A majority said indoor gatherings should be limited to five or fewer households.

Even outside, where the coronavirus is much less likely to spread, nearly all the epidemiologists said it was necessary to keep wearing masks in crowds, when people are near others whose vaccination status they don’t know.

This content was originally published here.

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