The CDC updated its mask guidance Thursday afternoon, relaying to the public that fully vaccinated people will no longer have to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most settings.
Fully vaccinated people will no longer have to adhere to social distancing guidelines as well.
There are some caveats, however. The CDC encouraged people who have weak immune systems, such as from organ transplants or cancer treatment, to talk with their doctors before shedding their masks. That’s because of continued uncertainty about whether the vaccines can rev up a weakened immune system as well as they do normal, healthy ones.
Nonetheless, the news has created shockwaves nationwide.
“Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address heralding the new guidance, an event where he and his staff went without masks. Hours earlier in the Oval Office, where Biden was meeting with vaccinated Republican lawmakers, he led the group in removing their masks when the guidance was announced.
“Your health and how soon your return to normal life before the pandemic are in your very capable hands,” said CDC Director Dr. Rachel Walensky. “Once you are fully vaccinated, you can shed your mask.”
A big announcement from the CDC shows that progress in the country’s vaccination program has paid off.
“The CDC has concluded that fully vaccinated people are at a very low risk of getting COVID 19,” Dr. Walensky said. “Therefore, if you’ve been fully vaccinated you no longer need to wear a mask.”
In 114 days, 250 million doses of the vaccine have entered the arms of Americans. Nearly 60% have now received at least one dose. The goal, President Joe Biden says, is to reach 70% by the Fourth of July.
Questions still linger about the vaccine rollout and how policing of mask requirements inside Illinois businesses will continue. Locals who spoke with WGN say they think it may take time and additional guidance.
“I think it will be really hard for people to get used to,” said Chicago resident Patty Jones. “I think people are so hesitant and still kind of afraid.”
At a Cook County Public Health vaccine event held Thursday, Dr. Kiran Joshi was asked his thoughts on the new recommendations.
“We do plan to review the guidance very carefully, and we’ll follow up with more specific answers,” Dr. Kiran said.
The announcement is a major change in American’s daily behavior. A gift, the president says, for the Americans, who he feels, stepped up and exercised their patriotic duty to help end the pandemic.
“The rule is very simple,” Pres. Biden said, “get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do.”