On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a move in returning the country back toward pre-pandemic life, releasing guidance on easing indoor mask-wearing requirements for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.
The new guidance still recommends masks be worn in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues.
The CDC also recommends that fully vaccinated people will no longer need to wear masks outdoors in crowds.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, announced the new guidance on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing, saying the long-awaited change is due to millions of people getting vaccinated — and based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
U.S. virus cases are at their lowest rate since September, deaths are at their lowest point since last April and the test positivity rate is at the lowest point since the pandemic began.
To date about 154 million Americans, more than 46% of the population, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines and more than 117 million are fully vaccinated.
The easing guidance might present issues, as there is no definite way for businesses or others to distinguish between those vaccinated and those who are not.
The science and belief is that the more people who get vaccinated, the faster infections will drop — and the harder it will be for the virus to mutate enough to escape vaccines.
There are some warnings that Americans should pay attention to. People who have weak immune systems, such as from organ transplants or cancer treatment or those with compromised health should speak with their doctors before eliminating their mask use.