The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reportedly considering “easing up” its guidance on indoor mask-wearing for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 according to a source that spoke to The Associated Press.
The agency faced a barrage of criticism over the weekend, following a “growing consensus” among health experts that masks are a declining necessity because of “the strong efficacy of the vaccines, which experts believe largely protects fully vaccinated Americans from getting severely ill with the virus and from transmitting it,” according to ABC News.
On Thursday, the AP reported that the CDC “will ease indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places, according to a person briefed on the announcement.”
The new guidelines will not apply in situations where the risk of transmission is still high, the source added, and will “still call for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but could ease restrictions for reopening workplaces and schools.”
The new guidance will reportedly address outdoor mask-wearing for certain individuals, as well. The CDC will reportedly “no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds,” paving the way for the return of outdoor activities over the summer.
The CDC has been slow in updating its mask-wearing guidelines, leading to a growing chorus of criticism from health experts, including National Institutes of Health head, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said, Sunday, that he agreed that a “shift” in indoor mask guidance, to a more “liberal” approach, could be necessary.
“No I think so, I think you’re going to probably see that as we go along and as more people get vaccinated,” Fauci said on ABC “This Week” on Sunday. “The CDC will be, almost in real-time…updating their recommendations and their guidelines. We do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated.”
CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky addressed the CDC’s “conservative decision making” in a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, telling federal lawmakers that “we, the CDC, are responsible for putting out guidance for individuals as well as for populations, for public health. We are responsible for putting out guidance for counties that have less than five cases per 100,000 and for counties that have greater than 100 cases per 100,000, as well as for counties that have less than 10% of people vaccinated and counties that have more than 50% of people vaccinated. Our guidance has to be science-based for all of these situations.”
“While the CDC updated its mask guidance last month, advising fully vaccinated populations can go without masks outdoors except in crowded settings, the agency still says fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors around unvaccinated people from multiple households, and in indoor public settings like movie theaters, malls, museums, and restaurants,” Fox News reported Thursday. “The agency also recently published a brief indicating small virus droplets can travel more than six feet under certain conditions, posing a risk for infection.”
Dr. Walensky is expected to make the new guidelines for indoor mask-wearing official at a press briefing Thursday afternoon.
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