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CDC Unveils New Mask Guidelines

For Americans who have been given the full COVID-19 vaccination, the new guidelines regarding face masks should come as great news. On Tues Apr. 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that for those who have received both vaccine doses, plus an additional two weeks, going outside without wearing a face mask is safe. This new guideline also says that for those who have been vaccinated, gathering outside in small groups without masks is also safe. These small groups may consist of a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, says the CDC. Still, the CDC encourages everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors or in large groups outdoors.

In a briefing for the Biden administration on Tuesday, Director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, stated that, “Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before.” When the new guidelines were announced, the CDC released an infographic that illustrates which activities are safe (or unsafe) for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to perform without masks. For vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike, going for an outdoor walk or run by yourself without a mask is perfectly safe. After previewing the new CDC guidelines on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden, stated that, “the risk of infection outside is really minimum. If you’re vaccinated, and you’re outside, it’s even less.” Fauci has also expressed his wish that the newly liberating mask guidelines will motivate more people to become vaccinated if they have not done so already. President Biden has also expressed this.

In a recent CDC report, it has been shown that millions of Americans are opting not to receive their second COVID shot. This is assumed to be correlated with the negative side effects that people have experienced after their first shot. However, the CDC has emphasized the importance of receiving both shots in the series of a given vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer). Without both shots, the vaccine loses its effectiveness. This is important to know, especially with the unveiling of the new mask guidelines. A person is not considered vaccinated if they have not received both shots — unless, they have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires a single dose. In order to be able to take advantage of the new guidelines for the vaccinated population, a person must receive all of the doses in the series of their specific vaccine, in addition to two weeks post-second dose. 

The CDC’s latest mask guidelines are yet another step closer to normalcy. However, as stressed by US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, this is not the final step in reclaiming normalcy. Stipulations regarding group gatherings and mask wearing still stand for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. If Americans wish to relish the newly laxed mask guidelines, it is important that they get out and get vaccinated.

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