The long awaited moment has finally arrived; face masks are coming off. Not entirely, and there's the rub.
When President Biden took his face mask off yesterday and announced a loosening of mask restrictions the reactions were immediate; celebration and suspicion.
Joy! Joy! It's now okay to walk around in public without a facemask if you're fully vaccinated... with one caveat - how do you prove your fully vaccinated?
The CDC's announcement on masks creates ambiguity for retailers because it fails to to fully align with state and and local orders.
The result? Retailers are stuck in an incredibly difficult situation between conflicting positions of federal and local guidance.
We're now dealing with an honor system where people who are not vaccinated are walking around without masks, despite the CDC guidance.
So how are people going to prove they're vaccinated? The answer to that is complicated.
Outside a handful of states that have poured resources into piloting so-called "vaccine passport" type systems, most Americans still have few options to prove whether they're fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Providing a public-facing portal for residents to quickly verify each other's vaccination status is far from a priority for some states.
As a matter of fact a handful of states have moved to prohibit businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Other states have seen a proliferation of forgeries mimicking the simple 4-by-3-inch cards doled out by the federal government.
The Biden administration has made it clear it doesn't plan on creating a national system to track or prove COVID-19 vaccinations.
So where does that leave us?
Many companies and nonprofits plan to launch their own consumer-friendly options.
They're relying on Technical specifications from private sector efforts like the Vaccine Credential Initiative, which promises "open, interoperable standards."
Meanwhile millions of Americans are shedding their masks, whether vaccinated or not, pretending the pandemic is over.