CDC Lightens Restrictions For Fully Vaccinated People

Image Courtesy of AP News

Image Courtesy of AP News

Grace Mittleman, Staff Writer

Yesterday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) modified its public health recommendation, saying fully vaccinated people can exercise and attend small gatherings outdoors without wearing a mask.

According to the CDC, people two weeks removed from their last vaccine can exercise alone or with other household members outside without a face covering.  They are also able to meet outdoors with a small group of other fully vaccinated people, or a mixture of fully vaccinated or unvaccinated people, but the CDC didn’t specify what “small” meant.  Dining unmasked at an outdoor restaurant with friends from different households is also acceptable.

This is good news for people who have been fully vaccinated.  However, the CDC still highly recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in outdoor spaces where the risk of COVID-19 is indefinite.  These spaces include more crowded places, such as sporting events, concerts, or parades.

“In public spaces, the vaccination status of other people or whether they are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 is likely unknown,” the CDC wrote in its guidance. “Therefore, fully vaccinated people should continue to follow guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a well-fitted mask, when indoors or in an outdoor setting or venue where masks are required.”

“CDC cannot provide the specific risk level for every activity in every community, so it is important to consider your own personal situation and the risk to you, your family, and your community before venturing out without a mask,” CDC added.

As of this past Monday, more than 140 million Americans (42.5% of the total population) had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to data compiled by the CDC. Approximately 95.8 million Americans (28.9% of the population) are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, hopes that these statistics and new guided recommendations encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.  “Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before,” she said. “If you are fully vaccinated, things are much safer for you than those who are not fully vaccinated.”

When asked to define what a “small gathering” was, Dr. Walensky did not give an answer.  She said the gathering depends on many factors, mainly being the size of the space for gathering, the space between people, and the amount of ventilation in the area.

The announcement from the CDC comes ahead of the Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations bound to take place.  President Joe Biden has vocalized his hopes to see enough Americans vaccinated by our country’s Independence Day to safely hold small outdoor gatherings.  He encourages all Americans to get vaccinated while stressing how important it is that Americans still wear masks in more crowded outdoor settings.

“I want to be clear: If you’re in a crowd like a stadium or at a concert, you still need to wear a mask, even if you’re outside,” Biden said in a speech on North Lawn at the White House. The CDC also said unvaccinated people can exercise alone or with a household member without a mask. However, the CDC still recommends vaccinated people wear masks in places such as hair salons, shopping malls, museums, movie theaters, and houses of worship.

Over the weekend, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated that the new mask guidance was fast-approaching, but also warned that Americans should adhere to public health measures until the CDC makes a thorough assessment.

“What I believe you’re going to be hearing, what the country is going to be hearing soon, is updated guidelines from the CDC,” Fauci said on ABC’s Sunday program: This Week With George Stephanopoulos. “The CDC is a science-based organization. They don’t want to make any guidelines unless they look at the data and the data backs it up.”