In terms of cases, we are exiting the Omicron surge. But there’s still a lot of people getting sick, and just because we’re not at the peak of the surge doesn’t mean we don’t have to take reasonable precautions.

I think everybody has to think about the most vulnerable person in their orbit and consider that person when making decisions. If you use that as your guidepost, then you sort of know the answers. If you have a vulnerable person in your life, you continue to take reasonable precautions, and that means masking around strangers.

But I also believe that vaccines protect us, booster shots protect us and people who are vaccinated can have a fair amount of freedom and don’t need to wear masks all the time.

How can I determine which precautions to take?

A good thing to ask yourself is: What are the consequences of me getting Covid? For some vaccinated people, it might be getting sick and missing a few days of work. And that’s probably a worthwhile trade-off for those people. I encourage my daughter — she’s in her 20s — to spend time with friends and be a young person. I think that if you can, you should. But if the consequences are, I could put somebody vulnerable at risk, whether or not there’s a mask mandate shouldn’t change your decision.

Where should I still wear a mask? Where should I consider taking it off?

In hospitals and airplanes, you should wear a mask — period. Also in airports, trains and places where you’re going to be spending a long time in the same spot. I also think you should wear a mask in places where it’s easy and not that inconvenient. So like the grocery store or running into the dry cleaner — it’s no big deal, so why not just take the precaution?

But outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining, exercising outdoors — one hundred percent take the mask off. I do think family gatherings can be more relaxed, depending on the most vulnerable person.

The harder ones are situations where it’s uncomfortable wearing a mask, like the gym. If you’re younger and healthy, you should be comfortable taking your mask off, but personally I would want to know whether my gym had good ventilation. (A lot of new gyms do, because otherwise they would be stinky.) As for the office, if everyone in your office is vaccinated, and you’re healthy, then I would consider it — nobody wants to wear a mask for eight hours a day, that sounds miserable.

Have you changed your mask routine?

I’m a caregiver now, so I wear a mask and think about social distance. I’m on heightened awareness because I don’t want to bring Covid home.

But I would say that it’s a balancing act. I did have family over for the Super Bowl, and that was important. A year ago, I would not have had the gathering, so that’s a big change for me. We used tests and didn’t wear masks. We’re still cautious, but we’re not going to miss out on time with family.

What’s the takeaway from the lifting of mask mandates?

To me, it feels a bit performative by politicians. I’m not sure how much is really changing. People were already doing pretty much what they wanted. Even with mandates, the reality has been that people who hate masks are lax and wear flimsy masks below those noses and people who don’t mind masks are wearing them correctly.

But let me clarify something. If you are unvaccinated, you should wear a mask, you should avoid crowds and you should hopefully talk to some trusted people about the vaccine and get more information. I recently lost an unvaccinated family member to Covid, and it’s a brutal way to die. It’s a lonely way to die, and it’s a painful way to die. And I don’t wish that on anybody.

And everybody I know has someone in their life who is unvaccinated — a parent, or a friend. Lots of vaccinated people love someone who is unvaccinated, and we have to remember that and continue to try to protect the unvaccinated and the vulnerable.