Mask outdoors is no longer needed regardless of whether an individual is vaccinated so long as he is either alone or with his immediate family members, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said early today.
An NBC News report said that fully vaccinated people could gather in small groups outdoors safely even without wearing masks.
The new CDC guidance is part of an update from the health agency on what activities are safest for Americans, depending on if they are completely vaccinated; that is, people who are two weeks from their last COVID-19 vaccine dose.
According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, over the previous year, they have spent a lot of time telling people in the United States what they should and should not do. But today, she said, she's going to tell Americans some things they can do if they have been fully vaccinated.
People who have attained full vaccination need to feel comfortable minus face masks or coverings outside with other small groups even when it is not clear if others have already been vaccinated.
US President Joe Biden used the new CDC guidance as a reason why people should get the COVID-19 vaccine if they have not done so yet.
During remarks from the White House North Lawn, Biden said this is yet another "great reason to get vaccinated now."
Indeed, he added, vaccines are about saving lives. They are about to help people get back closer to normal, as well.
Fully vaccinated people may now go minus the masks safely when eating at outdoor restaurants with those from other households.
The CDC explained that outdoor activity is less safe against COVID-19 for people who have not yet been vaccinated, and thus, they need to stay masked as much as possible when eating at outdoor food chains.
However, for other activities, the health agency still recommends putting on a mask even for vaccinated people. They are those who attend crowded outdoor events like sporting events and concerts, participating in full-capacity indoor religious services, and those exercising in indoor gyms. These activities, the CDC said, are not considered safe for everyone without ample protection.
Infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee said that this latest development appears to be an attempt of the CDC to offer some reward for people who have been vaccinated, not to mention help convince people who remain unvaccinated.
Further Understanding on the New CDC Guidance Needed
Adding to what he said about CDC's attempt to reward vaccinated people, Schaffner said that the new guidance is quite dense that it may not be easy for a lot of people to use it.
This is quite complicated, he explained, and thus there is a need to keep these guidelines with oneself to know the things he can and cannot do.
According to senior vice president and clinical affairs dean at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Dr. James McDeavitt, he does not see the new CDC guidance being a major driver of change in behavior.
Frankly, he added, he thinks that "what we've seen is that" the recommendations of the CDC have sort of followed what the public, in general, is doing and has not led what the general public does.
Infectious disease physician Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, also Boston Medical Center's medical director of the special pathogens unit said that it is essential for the public to understand that it is safer being outdoors as compared to when indoors.
A similar report is shown on CNBC Television's YouTube below:
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