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CalMatters – Renata Garza-Silva loves movies — she longs to sit in a theater without having to worry about COVID-19 and whether others around her are masked.
Hillary Liber dreams about going back to the gym. She misses her in-person fitness classes, but for now a makeshift home workout space in the middle of her living room will have to do.
Garza-Silva, who is immunocompromised, and Liber, who is diabetic, are among the millions of Californians at greater risk of complications from a COVID-19 infection despite being fully vaccinated.
Both women worry that the statewide protective measures that had given them some peace of mind during the pandemic are now lifting, increasing their susceptibility and limiting where they can go and what they can do.
“I’m always balancing out the fear of missing out with the fear of going out.”
Throughout California, people like Garza-Silva and Liber who have health conditions, such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders and diabetes, are forced to re-evaluate their risks.
Every day, they ask themselves whether buying groceries, going to work, eating at a restaurant or visiting the post office is worth the risk of contracting a virus that could leave them hospitalized — or worse.
For people at higher risk, the pandemic has meant walking a fine line for two years. “I’m always balancing out the fear of missing out with the fear of going out,” Liber said.
Under state guidelines that were loosened last week, vaccinated people now can go maskless in indoor public spaces, except health care facilities, schools and prisons.
Garza-Silva said this amplifies her worries, and she’s upset that state health officials have virtually ignored people like her when setting guidelines for returning life to “normal.”
“People in my position, young children and older people are just ignored. We don’t count whatsoever,” said Garza-Silva, 48, a middle school teacher … read more.