Vaccinated Americans can avoid masks in most places: CDC

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

CARLOS BARRIA POOL AFP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks or physically distance, indoors or outdoors in most circumstances.

It's huge news, especially for vaccinated people who wear glasses. As for indoor spaces, vaccinated people will still need to wear masks in crowded places including public transportation like buses and planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.

There have been reports of "breakthrough" infections among vaccinated people in the United States - a small number among more than 117 million people in the United States who are now fully vaccinated.

In late April, the CDC said fully vaccinated people can safely engage in outdoor activities like walking and hiking without wearing masks but it recommended continuing to use face-coverings in public spaces where they are required.

In that update, the CDC also exaggerated the risk of Covid transmission outdoors as accounting for less than 10 percent of cases when the figure is likely less than one percent, experts say.

Collins, the Republican senior senator from ME, questioned CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday during a Senate Health Committee about a New York Times newsletter that said a statistic in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline released last month saying "less than 10% " of covid-19 transmission occurred outdoors was "misleading" because some say it's actually much lower than that and closer to below 1%.

The attack by Collins, an influential senator who sometimes cooperates with Democrats, came as her state's Democratic governor joined a zoom call with President Joe Biden to talk about vaccine distribution and the pandemic.

Walensky said the loosened guidance should make it easier to reopen schools and workplaces as more and more people are vaccinated. 'Some people asked, why so close?' she quipped. "I have a 16-year-old and I continue he wanted to get the vaccine. I'm not going to die of this.' What they want to hear is, 'You can take your mask off, '" said Carlos del Rio, professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta.

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