Shakespeare wrote, "To be or not to be? That is the question," in 1599. If he were alive today, it's plausible Hamlet would be asking himself, "To mask or not to mask? How do I decide?" Yeah, you're right, probably not. Hamlet had a lot more to worry about than wearing a mask, what with his ghost Father wanting Hamlet to exact revenge on the man who usurped his throne and married his wife. There was a lot to unpack there.

Still, here in Buffalo, that's a question a lot of us are asking ourselves. Do a search on mask requirements in Western New York and the more you read, the more you'll be confused. For instance, you won't have to wear a mask going into Target, Walmart, or Starbucks. But, Wegmans, Aldi, and the Lexington Co-Op want customers to keep their masks on for now. But they're all reviewing the CDC's guidelines and are having internal discussions before they make any changes. Which is fair. There's a lot to take into consideration, both for businesses and for people like you and me.

Deciding whether to keep wearing a mask or not (if you don't have to) is a personal choice that could depend on where in Western New York you live.
Health experts continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and for those who remain unvaccinated, there is still a strong suggestion to continue to wear a mask when out in public. Not just to avoid getting sick themselves, but so it doesn't get spread to others.

For some people it's simple math;
How much of a risk you're willing to accept given the numbers of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated people where you live.

Take Erie County for example. The county's population is 919,719. And while 63.5% of the 18+ population has gotten at least one Vaccine Dose (476,637), whereas only 44.5% (405,136) have a completed Vaccine Series.

In Niagara County, the total population is 210,433. Of the 18+ Population, 58.3% has gotten at least one Vaccine Dose (100,235) while only 40.30% (84,844) have a completed Vaccine Series.

You can see the rest of the numbers below if you're interested. But at least now you have more information to help you in making that decision. To mask or not to mask? That is the question.

Cattaraugus County -
24,112 People with completed Vaccine Series
46.0% of 18+ Population with at least one Vaccine Dose
76,840 Total County Population

Chautauqua County -
47,363 People with completed Vaccine Series
52.7% of 18+ Population with at least one Vaccine Dose
127,939 Total County Population

Orleans County -
13,276 People with completed Vaccine Series
46.9% of 18+ Population with at least one Vaccine Dose
40,612 Total County Population

Wyoming County -
13,716 People with completed Vaccine Series
48.3% of 18+ Population with at least one Vaccine Dose
40,085 Total County Population

Stores That Have Lifted Their Mask Mandate (updated)

Here are stores that have (currently) lifted their mask mandates.

Restaurants Buffalonians Flock To When The Weather Gets Warm

Increasing temperatures mean these local favorites here in Western New York are busy!