The CDC Says These Parts of the U.S. Should Continue Requiring Masks
There are some exceptions to the agency's recent announcement about where to wear PPE.
Life took one more step towards going back to normal on May 13, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors or indoors, outside of a few exceptions. But while the news has many excited that they'll finally be able to interact in public without covering their face, the agency has clarified that their guideline change isn't a blanket recommendation to ditch PPE. In fact, the CDC says that parts of the U.S. where infection and vaccination rates aren't right should continue requiring citizens to wear masks in public.
"I want to make sure everybody understands … we're not a homogeneous country," Rochelle Walensky, MD, the director of the CDC, told Fox News' Chris Wallace during a May 16 interview. "There are some places that have more disease than others and less vaccination rates than others, and what I would say is in those communities, they should still be looking within those communities before removing mask policies."
News of the agency's guideline change comes as the U.S. has seen a drastic reduction in COVID-19 infections, dropping 33 percent over the past two weeks, according to data from The New York Times as of May 17. And while the shift in the pandemic's trajectory is presumably thanks to the continued rollout of vaccines across the country, Walensky specified that the updated guidance wasn't a green light for all areas to drop their mask mandates.
"This is not permission for widespread removal of masks," Walesnky clarified during a May 16 appearance on ABC's This Week. "For those who are vaccinated, it may take some time for them to feel comfortable removing their masks, but also that these decisions have to be made at the jurisdictional level, at the community level. Some communities have been hit harder than others, have lower vaccination rates than others. We want to deliver the science at the individual level, but we also understand that these decisions have to be made at the community level."
Still, Walensky emphasized that existing vaccines offered a level of protection that allowed for the agency to make the recommendation change it did. When asked by host Martha Raddatz about essential workers at major national retailers being exposed to maskless customers, the CDC director took the opportunity to urge anyone who had yet to get their jabs to do so.
"We are asking people to take their health into their own hands, to get vaccinated, and if they don't, then they continue to be at risk," she said. "For the unvaccinated, our policy has not changed."