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New strains could cause coronavirus cases to spike in conjunction with relaxed mask mandate

'I will probably still wear my mask in the big box stores for a while,' resident says
Posted at 9:45 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 23:25:38-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Target, CVS and Starbucks are now joining other retail stores and restaurants in eliminating their mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers.

"I think it's fine," said Port St. Lucie resident June Herington. "I think this has gone on long enough."

Publix, Walmart, Trader Joe's and Costco have also changed their policies.

"I don't think that it's going to lead to a spike in cases because there are people that never wore masks," said Ruth Goldstein.

None of the above-listed retailers are requiring customers to show proof of their vaccination, causing concern for some shoppers.

"I chose to keep my mask on, because how do I know if these people are really vaccinated or not," said Goldstein.

"I personally think it is kind of too soon, because I would have liked to wait to see if there's no emergent variants around the world before we do this," said Dr. Moti Ramgopal, an infectious disease physician.

Ramgopal said he expects a spike towards the end of the year when vaccine efficacy may diminish against new strains of coronavirus.

"Vaccines are not going to be 90% effective as we saw with the earlier strain," said Ramgopal. "It's going to be less. It's going to be 50% or 70%."

"I will probably still wear my mask in the big box stores for a while," said Goldstein.