• Devon Pique

CDC Updates Mask Guidelines

The United States is one step closer to returning to pre-pandemic normalcy now that the CDC has updated their mask guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. On May 13th, the CDC told those that are fully vaccinated (people who have received their Johnson & Johnson shot or second dose of Pfizer or Moderna over two weeks ago) that their mask recommendation and 6-feet-apart social distancing requirement no longer applied to them.

States, territories, tribes, and local governments still have the option to enforce a mask mandate, so while fully vaccinated people aren’t completely out of the woods yet, individuals have the ability to decide for their own events if they feel masks should be required. Other CDC guidelines changed as well, including: travel within the U.S. does not require a COVID test if you are fully vaccinated and fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19 unless they show symptoms.

The CDC still requests that people that have been fully vaccinated follow workplace and local business guidance and continue to wear masks while on planes, buses, and other forms of public travel.

While there has been much relief among citizens about this new mask guideline, others feel confused and worried. One fear is that some may simply lie and say they are vaccinated when they are not.

“The guidance shifts all the burden onto individuals to be ‘on their honor’ and choose the appropriate actions when deciding whether to wear a mask,” said Lisa Maragakis, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in an interview with the Washington Post. “There is no way to know who is vaccinated and who is not in most scenarios. The likely result is that almost no one will wear a mask.”

There also seems to be an issue with states getting on the same page as each other. While some states like Connecticut, Illinois and Kentucky have updated their mask mandates after the news, others like California and New Jersey still require fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask, adding to the general confusion over the safety of not wearing a mask.

CDC Director Rochelle Walenski in a press conference on May 20th continued to assure people that the decision was made because of a sharp decline in cases and the expansion of the vaccine to younger people. She continued to explain that new cases were down 17% from the week prior and that hospitalization from COVID-19 were down 15%, reassuring the American people that the vaccine was working. In the same press conference Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease highlighted that the vaccine was just as effective in real life as it was in clinical trials with a 94% effectiveness.

So, while there may still be some fears about folks lying about their vaccination status and mixed messages coming from state governments, the updated mask guideline is a beacon of hope for the American people and a testament to the effectiveness the vaccine has.


Speaking Plainly

  • On May 13th the CDC updated it’s mask guidelines so that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear them.

  • State and local authorities still have the power to enforce a mask mandate.

  • Some fear that some may lie about their vaccination status in order to curtail mask mandates and states are struggling to get on the same page.

  • The decision was made after careful consideration of vaccination efficacy.