As Americans continue to get vaccinated and coronavirus cases dip across the country, big changes are in the air. Literally, because there are fewer infected droplets floating around. But also figuratively: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will today be loosening guidance on wearing face masks indoors for fully vaccinated people.
To qualify as fully vaccinated, you must be two weeks past your last required COVID-19 vaccine dose. The extra time allows for disease immunity to build up within your body.
If you fit that description, as of today, the CDC will not recommend wearing a mask inside most places. That includes restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and clothing shops. It will, however, still advocate wearing masks in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters. It emphasizes that people should follow state and local guidance, which may be different.
The new guidance will also stop recommending masks in outdoor spaces, whether sparsely or densely populated.
That’s a shift echoed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading bellwether of COVID-19-safe herd mentality, who said today on CBS This Morning, “We’ve got to make that transition . . . if you’re vaccinated and you’re outside, put aside your mask. You don’t have to wear it.” (Note: Fauci did say a mask should be worn if you’re in “a completely crowded situation where people are essentially falling all over each other.”)
The new policies are a reversal from two weeks prior, when the CDC was still recommending masks broadly, save for isolated outdoor spaces. In recent days, the Biden administration has been facing pressure to join the likes of Krispy Kreme and Shake Shack in elevating the benefits of getting inoculated, by easing restrictions for fully vaccinated people. As the pace of vaccination has stagnated, with some regional pharmacies and hospitals reporting piles of leftover doses, it appears to be answering the call.
As of yesterday, 35% of the American population has been fully vaccinated, and 46% have received at least one shot.