CDC Says Americans Can Stop Wearing Face Masks Inside – but Only if They’re Fully Vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Americans can stop wearing face masks inside. The loosening of restrictions comes, as always, with a range of caveats – not least the fact that they only apply to those who are fully vaccinated against Covid. The New York Times has the story.

The advice from the CDC comes as welcome news to [fully vaccinated] Americans who have tired of restrictions and marks a watershed moment in the pandemic. Masks ignited controversy in communities across the United States, symbolising a bitter partisan divide over approaches to the pandemic and a badge of political affiliation...

The new advice comes with caveats. Even vaccinated individuals must cover their faces and physically distance when going to doctors, hospitals or long-term care facilities like nursing homes; when travelling by bus, plane, train or other modes of public transportation, or while in transportation hubs like airports and bus stations; and when in prisons, jails or homeless shelters.

In deference to local authorities, the CDC said vaccinated Americans must continue to abide by existing state, local, or tribal laws and regulations, and follow local rules for businesses and workplaces. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot or the second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series…

The CDC has been under fire recently for moving too gingerly to lift restrictions on public activities for those who are vaccinated. Some critics have said the Agency’s caution may suggest to Americans that officials lack confidence in the vaccines…

Only half of Americans said that they had a “great deal” of trust in the CDC, according to a new survey conducted in February and March by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Officials are worried that herd immunity may not be reached in the U.S., partly due to the decline of daily vaccination rates.

As of Wednesday, about 154 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, but only about one-third of the nation, some 117.6 million people, have been fully vaccinated.

But the pace has slowed: Providers are administering about 2.16 million doses per day on average, about a 36% decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported in mid-April.

As demand for the vaccine continues to wane, some states are requesting small fractions of their allotted doses from the Federal Government to save them from having to throw unused doses away. It is hoped that the change in mask-wearing guidelines for the vaccinated will push those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to get a move on.

The New York Times report is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: “The rule is now simple,” says Joe Biden: “Get vaccinated or wear a mask.”

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