Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has announced updated mask guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans, noting that it’s no longer necessary for them to wear masks in most outside situations.
“Today, I hope, is a day when we can take another step back to the normalcy of before,” Walensky said, according to The Associated Press.
“Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what you can’t do. Today, I am going to tell you some of the things you can do, if you are fully vaccinated,” she added.
The new guidelines come as more than a third of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated. More than 50 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccination shot, the AP reported.
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Meanwhile, the nation continues to rebound from the global pandemic, with the CDC reporting last week, “The 7-day average of daily new deaths (691) decreased 3.7% compared with the prior 7-day average.”
Among key guideline changes provided Tuesday by the CDC is that “Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues.”
In addition, “fully vaccinated workers no longer need to be restricted from work following an exposure as long as they are asymptomatic,” the CDC said.
The new announcements fell short, however, of claiming that the need for masks is over altogether. Social distancing continues to be recommended, including the advice to remain six feet apart, according to The New York Times.
“The CDC says that whether they are fully vaccinated or not, people do not have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household. They can also go maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people,” the AP reported.
“But unvaccinated people — defined as those who have yet to receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson formula — should wear masks at small outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people, the CDC says. They also should keep their faces covered when dining at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households,” the outlet added.
The updated guidelines continue to appear at odds with restriction rollbacks in many states.
As of Tuesday, nearly half of the nation’s states — 24, to be exact — have ended mask mandates, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. The AARP report also noted that Washington, D.C, and Puerto Rico also still require face coverings.
The news also comes as the nation prepares for Memorial Day in May and summer activities. Many Americans plan to return to normal travel and outdoor activities whether they are vaccinated or not.
The nation continues to average approximately 55,000 new coronavirus cases per day, which is down about 20 percent from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database.
“I know the quarantine and shutdowns throughout the pandemic have been exhausting,” Walensky said, according to The Times report.
“I know we all miss the things we used to do before the pandemic and I know we all want to do the things we love and soon. Today is another day we can take a step back,” she added.
A study from The Journal of Infectious Diseases concluded only 10 percent of coronavirus infections have occurred outdoors.
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