America’s largest public health agency has said fully vaccinated people can forgo covering their faces in almost any indoor and outdoor setting, a significant loosening of social distancing advice as Covid-19 cases continue to decline .
The latest update expands guidelines at the end of April that allowed fully vaccinated people to dispense with face coverings by most outdoor settings. Prior to Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended that fully vaccinated people always wear masks in a crowded outdoor setting like a concert or sporting event. This restriction has now been removed.
Americans who received the last injection of a vaccination schedule at least two weeks earlier can now safely engage in almost any indoor activity without wearing a mask, the CDC said Thursday.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing.
The announcement will pave the way for offices and schools to reopen faster, as states have dropped restrictions related to the pandemic and allowed people to travel and socialize more freely. Some states, like Texas, have already dropped their own mask requirements.
Masks would still be needed in certain indoor environments with specific health guidelines, such as hospitals or when traveling by air or public transport, Walensky said.
Decision to ease mask restrictions for fully vaccinated people comes amid a encouraging decline in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations across the country as more people are vaccinated, Walensky said. The United States averaged about 36,800 new infections a day over the past week, she said, a 23% drop from the previous week.
Andy Slavitt, a senior White House coronavirus adviser, said Thursday that Covid-related deaths hovered at around 590 per day, the lowest since April 2020, when the pandemic was in its infancy.
About 265 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the United States since the deployment began in December, according to CDC data as of May 12. Almost 59 percent of adult Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine. President Joe Biden has established a goal to reach 70% by July 4.
Just over 35% of the entire American population has been fully immunized. A CDC panel this week advised the BioNTech / Pfizer jab aimed at children aged 12 to 15, paving the way for millions of adolescents to benefit from a vaccine.
Anthony Fauci, one of Biden’s top coronavirus advisers, sought to clear up some of the confusion over the use of the mask outdoors for people fully vaccinated earlier on Thursday.
“If you find yourself in a completely overcrowded situation where people are falling on top of each other, then you are wearing a mask. But at any other time, if you are vaccinated and you are outside, put your mask aside, you do not have to wear it, ”he said in an interview with CBS this morning.