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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new mask guidelines Tuesday to account for the low risk of virus transmission in outdoor settings as a results of increased vaccinations.
“Over the past year we’ve spent tons of your time telling Americans what they can’t do, what they ought to not do. Today, I’m getting to tell you a number of the items you’ll do if you’re fully vaccinated,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
The new rules say it’s acceptable to get rid of masks outdoors and in small gatherings, as long as there’s space — no matter vaccination status.
But many other situations still require masks, especially for unvaccinated individuals.
“I want to be absolutely clear, if you’re during a crowd … you continue to need to wear a mask. albeit you’re outside,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday.
Health officials also said Tuesday it’s time to get rid of state-level blanket mask mandates.
“What we’re saying is, (for) states that have mask requirements outdoors, if people are vaccinated, we not feel that the vaccinated people require masks outdoors,” Walensky said.
But the change in guidance comes because the country is experiencing uneven vaccination rates in each state. Walensky said she expects the cases to rise in areas with fewer vaccinated people.
That is something Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, also addressed during a call with reporters Tuesday.
Jha said that while things look bright for the near-term within the U.S., some southern states are a priority thanks to low vaccination rates. But, he cautioned, defining the areas of low rates by politics or ideology isn’t helpful.
“The reason why it’s slightly wrong … is what can we realize access in those counties? the upper the barrier, the less the people will get vaccinated,” Jha said.
So conflating barriers and access into political ideologies like, “Trump supporters do not get vaccines,” isn’t helpful, he said.
Jha added that he doesn’t believe that the U.S. will need booster shots in 2021, but noted tons more research vaccine durability.
That contrasts what both Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna (MRNA) CEOs have publicly said.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told Yahoo Finance earlier this month a booster might be likely within a year after vaccination.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has also suggested there might be a requirement for a further shot, which we could know the solution by fall.