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CDC issues new travel advice for more than 120 countries

Enrique Matamoros shops for lumber at a Home Depot store on May 27, in Doral, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For more than a year now, many of us have followed the standard drill: wash our hands, stay 6 feet apart, choose outdoor activities over indoors, and – most of all – wear a mask.

But as more people get vaccinated, the rules are stating to loosen. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks outdoors or even indoors, except in a few circumstances.

While the news was certainly a cause for celebration, it also was a cause for confusion.

Here’s are some things you should assess when going mask-free.

Rethink you mental shortcuts: When we try to solve problems or make decisions, we rely on “heuristics,” a fancy name for the rules of thumb, intuition and mental shortcuts that help with our judgment, according to Eve Wittenberg, a health decision scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

But with Covid there is ambiguity – the not knowing what the probability of certain outcomes are. And she said that it makes taking a risk, like whether to dine indoors, board a plane or attend that concert, even harder.

The most crucial tip for decision-making in poker and life is to update your decisions based on the incoming information.

Assess how protected you are: First, for the most part, unvaccinated people are primarily a risk to other unvaccinated people. They aren’t much of a risk to the vaccinated and the vaccinated aren’t much of a risk to them.

There are two key points to remember. One is that vaccinated people are very unlikely to get really sick, even if they do have the rare breakthrough infection. Second, for people who live with a child under 12 or someone who for health-related reasons can’t mount an immune response from a vaccine – even if you do get infected, the science is beginning to show that you’re very unlikely to then be contagious enough to spread the virus to somebody else in your family or community.

Experts say for most people, in most situations where we are not close to people for a long period of time, it’s really about assessing the situation that you’re in and taking steps to mitigate the risk.

Think about if you are risk-tolerant or risk-averse: This is the idea that some people’s nature makes them more cautious – or in other words, people differ in what they worry about.

Experts say people should take in information and evaluate how trustworthy they consider it and how relevant it is to their own situation.


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