On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated people, enabling them to avoid wearing masks outside in crowds and in most indoor environments, in a big move toward returning to pre-pandemic life.
President Joe Biden said, “Today is a great day for America.” He and his colleagues went without masks during a Rose Garden address announcing the latest guidelines. Biden led the party in removing their masks in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with vaccinated Republican lawmakers when the guidance was published.
If a person is vaccinated he/she doesn’t have to wear a mask according to the guidelines. While masks are still needed in crowded indoor settings such as buses, airlines, hospitals, jails, and homeless shelters, the guidelines will help pave the way for the reopening of workplaces, schools, and other venues — also eliminating the need for social distancing for those who have been completely vaccinated.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said at an earlier White House briefing that, “We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
The CDC and the Biden administration have been under pressure to relax restrictions on fully vaccinated people — those who have received their last mandatory COVID-19 vaccine dose two weeks ago — in order to emphasise the benefits of having the vaccine.
The country’s ambitious vaccination policy has shown positive results: The number of virus infections in the United States has dropped to its lowest level since September, deaths have dropped to their lowest level since April, and the test positivity rate has dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic started.
According to Walensky, the long-awaited move is due to the millions of people who have been vaccinated and is focused on the most up-to-date science on how well the shots work.
Since there is no surefire way for companies or others to differentiate between those who are completely vaccinated and those who are not, the new guidance is likely to cause uncertainty.
Even if some people get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, Walensky says this is uncommon. She cited evidence that such infections are milder, shorter, and more difficult to spread. People who have been vaccinated should immediately put their mask back on and get checked if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, she advised.
There are a few stipulations. People with weakened immune systems, such as those resulting from organ transplants or cancer treatment, should consult their doctors before removing their masks, according to Walensky. That’s because there’s still some doubt about whether vaccinations will boost a compromised immune system as well as a strong one.
The new guidelines went into effect right away at the White House, which had been wary of loosening virus restrictions. Masks are no longer available for people who have been completely vaccinated, according to staff.