The road back to life before the pandemic took a huge step Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control eased guidelines on wearing masks outdoors. They say Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus no longer need to cover their faces unless they’re in a big crowd of strangers. Overall, coronavirus cases are down across America due to vaccinations. President Biden on Tuesday reiterated his targeting of the Fourth of July as a time to get life back to normal.
Under the eased guidelines, people do not have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike, or run alone or with members of their household.
“If you’re 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,” President Biden said.
The CDC stopped short of saying vaccinated adults can lose the masks altogether.
The guidance is people should continue wearing masks and staying six feet apart at sporting events, indoor malls and movie theaters.
“I want to be absolutely clear,” Bidens says, “If you’re in a crowd like a stadium or a concert, you still need to wear a mask.”
For nearly a year, the CDC had advised Americans to wear masks outdoors if they were within 6 feet of each other. The update is welcome news for Manish Malek, the owner of Rooh in Chicago’s West Loop.
“Thank god for the weather,” Malek said. “The weather is getting better, vaccinations are going up, so it’s definitely trending in the right direction.”
Doctors like Khalilah Gates, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Medicine, still want to urge people to be careful.
“What is the risk of taking off the mask? The risk of taking off the mask is still becoming infected with COVID-19,” Dr. Gates said. “It’s still passing on COVID-19 to people who may not be vaccinated. So there is significant risk and as everything in medicine and in life you have to really look at the risk and the benefits and make some decisions.”
All of this is possible because of the pace of vaccinations. Forty-two percent of Americans have received at least one dose and 29% have gotten both shots.