U.S. states and cities are dropping masking requirements. Federal officials say COVID-19 is moving out of the crisis phase.

But many people across the U.S. say that for them, the emergency continues.

On Thursday, California became the first state to announce it would treat COVID-19 like an endemic disease and Washington state said it would drop its indoor mask mandate. In the past two weeks, Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C., announced similar plans. Scarred by past surges and unconvinced that danger has truly abated, some workers, epidemiologists, and the still-vulnerable immunocompromised are playing it safe, no matter what their governments say.