IOWA — It’s a whole new world as America heads into the first full week of the newest CDC guidelines for the fully vaccinated. “It’s like a culture shock,” said Cris Wildermuth, who lives in West Des Moines. She is fully vaccinated, but despite having the freedom to unmask, she remains unsure of what others will think. “How can they tell? I don’t have a sign on my thing that says I’m vaccinated don’t worry about me. If I cough, it’s nothing,” said Wildermuth.
Various metro stores are allowing vaccinated Iowans to shop maskless without requiring any proof. “That does worry me. I think some people that aren’t getting vaccinated at all would just walk around pretending like they’ve been vaccinated,” said Deronta Spencer of Des Moines. He is still seven days out from full vaccination and believes honesty is the best policy. “I’m not fully vaccinated until the final dose. I want to be responsible and honest. I could go in there without the mask and no one would know, but I would know, and I don’t want to put anyone in jeopardy,” said Spencer.
Olivia Cook of Des Moines has yet to get her first shot, and while wandering Des Moines’ East Village, she is not trying to fool anyone. “Even though you could get away with it and you could be fine, I think it’s just keeping up with that attitude that we’ve had the entire time and be respectful and caring about it,” Cook said.
Cook’s friend Katy Grimes is still waiting on her second dose. She knows it would feel good individually to ditch the mask with no way to be called out for it, but she believes her decision is for the greater good. Grimes said, “I just want to be considerate of other people and make sure they know that there is a lesser chance of them getting it too.”
While they choose to mask, neither Grimes nor Cook are naïve and feel some will skirt the guidelines. “I’m sure it’s happening,” Olivia said.
The great mask debate can quickly divide a room, but with a mindset of being all in together, there are many staying true to Iowa nice. “If masking is how you pay it forward and be respectful, then that is what you’ve got to do,” said Olivia.