The CDC Has Recently Put Out New Mask Guidelines: Here’s What You Should Know


Nitya Wanchoo

The United States CDC recently issues updated guidance on the usage of outdoor masks for those that are vaccinated. To put it simply, fully vaccinated people are now permitted to unmask at small outdoor gatherings in an attempt to begin the process of returning to normalcy.

The guidelines are straightforward. The CDC still advises all people, unvaccinated or vaccinated, to still wear masks in indoor public areas such as malls or theaters. For those that are vaccinated, outdoor activities without a mask have been deemed safe. However, masking is still encouraged in crowded outdoor venues, such as stadiums and concerts, where social distancing is not as well maintained. President Biden made an effort to focus on what vaccinated Americans can do now, instead of what they still cannot do. He considers these guidelines a show of science, and not either of the two political parties. The list is composed of walking, running, hiking or biking outdoors alone or with members of their household, attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends, attending small outdoor gatherings with a mixture of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and even dining at outdoor restaurants with vaccinated friends from multiple households. Needless to say, restrictions are being loosened.

These guidelines are being updated constantly due to the rapid rollout of the COVID-19 virus. As expected, a relationship has been found, and as more vaccines are distributed, the cases seem to be going down. People are only considered to be fully vaccinated once they’ve waited two weeks after the final dose of their preferred vaccine for the effects of it to really sink in. Seeing as outdoor transmission rates are significantly lower than indoor transmission rates, the CDC has found it appropriate to relax the outdoor masking mandates. As a result, governors in various states such as California, New York, Louisiana, Maine, and Massachusetts all have revisited mask mandates after the announcement.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke on the matter on behalf of the federal health agency and explained the steps to be taken. “What we’re saying is, states that have mask requirements outdoors, if people are vaccinated, we no longer feel that the vaccinated people require masks outdoors — so, to the extent that those are consistent” She also promised future updates as more statistics came to be known. Walensky also discussed a foreseeable issue, being that it may prove to be difficult to distinguish between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Vaccine passports, which confirm a person’s vaccination status, have become an upcoming topic recently and may
prove to be a successful future solution. President Biden also commented on the announcement from the White House. “The bottom line is clear, if you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors” Later in his speech, he used such reasoning as an opportunity to encourage people to get vaccinated, right away.

This slackening has also been supported by many others. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor has also previewed this new guidance. He even showed his support for it at a virtual event hosted by the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and said that “the risk of
infection outside is really minimum. If you’re vaccinated, and you’re outside, it’s even less.” Dr. Fauci also advises individuals to abide by local mask mandates. Moreover, Dr. Babak Javid, a physician-scientist at the University of California spoke out in agreement as to why the new CDC guidance is sensible. He even commented on how the additional freedoms for the vaccinated may motivate others to seek out a vaccine as well. Senator Roger Marshall, a freshman Republican from Kansas and a medical doctor publicly made a statement in which he
said vaccines were important “So that we can throw away our masks, and live life as free as before.”

Such support for these guidelines did not go unrivaled. One example of opposition was seen in Tennessee, where Republican Governor Bill Lee ignored the advice of the CDC and declared that he was in agreement of celebrations to take place without gathering size limits. Such
celebrations would include weddings, concerts, parades, and proms, and could prove to be a huge liability to the now decreasing cases.

This is just the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel. There seems to be only further loosening of such COVID-19 restrictions to come. Hopefully, the return back to normal will occur soon, and smoothly.