‘It’s hard to let your guard down’: Many choose to wear masks even when not required in Charlotte

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Friday that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most situations.

But if you’ve been to a store, you might have noticed most people are still wearing them. Many say they’re still nervous to be in public without their masks.

“Why do you care? I’m not making you wear it so let me wear it,” said Katherine Bracken, who’s an ICU nurse.

Bracken decided to wear her mask inside Publix, and on her walk home, even though it is not required.

“I’ve definitely gotten some comment in the last couple of days, being like ‘you know you don’t need to wear that?’”

Several stores are still requiring you to wear masks like Harris Teeter and Home Depot.

Others, including Publix, Target and Walmart are leaving the choice up to you as long as you’re fully vaccinated.

However, many are choosing to wear their masks inside these stores.

“I’ll probably continue to keep it on until this thing is over,” said Brennan Terra.

“When I was inside, I didn’t see anybody without a mask,” said Jerry Furlong about Publix.

Mental health experts say this choice might have to do with people’s anxiety about the future of the virus.

“We’re experiencing some anxiety because we have been dealing with these guidelines for more than a year, or about a year and kind of gotten used to going out and see people with their masks on,” said Kathy Rogers, the executive director of Mental Health America of Central Carolinas.

That fear is why Dulce Turruviartes continues to wear a mask.

She has a three-week-old and 5-year-old at home. After losing a family member to COVID, she says the mask will stay.

“I lost a family member back in December. This is hard for me not to wear it,” Turruviartes said. “I’m kind of afraid to not wear it anymore.”

Bracken spent months as an ICU nurse on the COVID floor. She’s seen the worst of this virus which is why her mask is on.

“It’s just hard, it’s hard to take the mask off. It’s hard to let your guard down,” she said. “For me it’s not a big deal to keep wearing my mask, it’s no skin off my back so I really don’t mind wearing it.”

But the biggest reason WBTV News found people are still wearing their masks? Many of them are not fully vaccinated.

Just 46 percent of adults in North Carolina are fully vaccinated and only 28 percent of Mecklenburg County’s total population is fully vaccinated.

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