Reopening anxiety, new COVID-19 Delta variant make some nervous to go maskless

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Not everyone is excited to pack into places as Chicago and Illinois reopen. The thought of crowded places and close company is giving some people anxiety.

While many are enjoying their newfound freedom, others are taking it slow. Some people, even those who are vaccinated, are too nervous to take their masks off and mingle with the masses.

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"I was thinking about how fun it would be to go to a movie theater, then I'm like, actually I don't know if I feel normal at a movie theater yet," said Clay Catlin.

Mental health experts say reopening anxiety is a real thing, and the key is re-entering society at your own pace.

"Don't overwhelm yourself, don't do too much all at once," said Jeff Geiger, a mental health expert at Northwestern Medicine.

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And as the city and state reopen, public health officials urge people who are not fully vaccinated to use caution because of a new potent strain known as the Delta variant.

"I think what makes this one worse, it seems to be much more contagious than other strains of the virus," said Dr. Robert Citronberg, Infectious Disease Director at Advocate Aurora Health.

The Delta variant is the cause of a recent surge of cases in the UK, putting Great Britain's June 21 reopening date in jeopardy.

So far, 6% of the new cases in the United States are identified as the Delta variant. There are 60 cases here in Illinois.

While both doses of the vaccine have proven to work well against the variant, it's is much less effective after one dose. According to the Chicago Dept. of Health, 53.2% of the city's population has received one dose, while only 45.8% are fully vaccinated.

"That's unfortunate, they should get vaccinated and get out here with the rest of us," Kelvin Davis said.

Not only to enjoy normalcy again, but to beat Delta variant.
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