With the reopening of Massachusetts from the COVID-19 pandemic just two days away, new polling indicates more than six out of 10 Americans favor dropping face mask mandates. Dumping the masks is long overdue in my assessment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance, easing up on mask requirements, relaxing social distancing recommendations, and allowing the resumption of normal activities for vaccinated adults. It seems many folks support the agency's decision.

A Rasmussen Reports survey indicates that 64 percent of respondents across the board "strongly" approve or "somewhat" approve of the updated guidelines. Rasmussen states that includes 71 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats, and 60 percent of Independents. Hey, there is that unity we've heard so much about.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents told Rasmussen they have been vaccinated. Just 36 percent had not received a shot. As of the time of the poll, more Democrats than Republicans had opted to be poked.

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The poll results indicate that Americans have grown weary of restrictions on their movements and are ready to move on from the pandemic. As more people are vaccinated, COVID cases, hospitalizations, and COVID-related deaths steadily decline.

The challenge going forward will be to convince those who have not received a vaccine to do so, or to continue to wear a mask. Each person has an option to either get a shot or not. Those who forgo the shot will have a responsibility to cover up to protect themselves and others from contracting the virus.

I have a suspicion that Saturday's reopening will convince many others to be vaccinated.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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