Could the CDC be ending mask mandates soon? According to the Center for Disease Control director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, that could be in the cards in the near future. With over 84 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States, the CDC is considering updating the guidelines for mask use outdoors.
“We’ll be looking at the outdoor masking question, but also in the context of the fact that we still have people who are dying of Covid-19,” Walensky told NBC’s Today Show. With the knowledge that we currently have of COVID-19 that transmission largely occurs indoors combined with the amount of vaccinations throughout the country, the CDC is looking at easing mask restrictions in areas where there is little to no transmission. Current CDC guidance states that masks may not be necessary when you are outdoors by yourself or with members of your household.
Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, says that loosening restrictions on outdoor masking may increase compliance when it comes to wearing masks indoors. Emphasizing where it is safe and not safe to wear masks will allow people to make better decisions on where to go with their free time. For instance, people who do not want to wear masks indoors may opt to take their activities outdoors instead, where masking would not be required while being compliant with the current guidelines.
While the science is always evolving surrounding COVID-19, the fundamentals have stayed rather constant in saying that the vast majority of transmission comes indoors in places where lack of social distancing and masks are involved. With the increasing number of vaccinations by the day, the CDC will be constantly looking to update and alter guidelines loosening restrictions as case numbers lower. Just a couple of months ago as vaccination rates picked up, the CDC said that vaccinated individuals can gather indoors without masks and social distancing, while still asking citizens to remain vigilant, taking proper precautions such as washing hands frequently.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has stated he hopes to lift restrictions including an outdoor mask mandate by June 1, and more states are expected to shortly follow. Texas lifted all mask and capacity restrictions at the beginning of March.
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