President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the White House, “Beginning today, gathering with a group of friends in a park, going for a picnic, as long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask. If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors.”
He continued on the vaccine, “For those who haven’t gotten their vaccination yet, especially if you’re younger, or think you don’t need it, this is another great reason to go get vaccinated now … now.”
Federal health officials have said that fully vaccinated Americans can now leave their masks off when outdoors in small groups, and can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC chief, said “Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before. According to new US rules, fully vaccinated people can attend small gatherings with others if they are vaccinated or not. Walensky continued, “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do. Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.”
The CDC is still urging people to wear masks at large gatherings like sporting events, and at stores with large amounts of customers. They also said that it is important to still follow workplace guidelines.
Some health experts have criticized the CDC’s comments as “overdue”. Emily Landon, an epidemiologist and infectious disease doctor at the University of Chicago Medicine, says it is important to have guidance on when you should and should not wear a mask. Up until this point there have not been many suggestions on when to not wear a mask. Monica Gandhi, associate division chief in HIV, infectious diseases, and global Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco General Hospital, says this move from the CDC may encourage more vaccines.
Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation however believes that this will lull people into a false sense of security, and people will start to relax on precautions prematurely. Krystal Pollitt, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health said, “There are so many things to take into consideration to best evaluate risk. We still need to be vigilant.”
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