The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States has announced that fully vaccinated Americans can return to life without masks in a major step toward returning to pre-life.
CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky made the announcement at a White House briefing Thursday, May 13.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Walensky said, announcing the sweeping change. “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.”
“We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Walensky said.
The announcement comes after Walensky faced criticism for the CDC being too slow to provide a pathway back to normalcy for fully vaccinated people, over 117 million of whom are in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the requirement to wear masks during travel on buses, trains, planes, and public transportation still stands, Walensky said, and the guidance for travel will be updated as science emerges. Even vaccinated individuals must cover their faces and physically distance when going to doctors, hospitals, or long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
In announcing the decision Thursday May 14, the CDC pointed to additional data from the last few weeks that show the vaccines work in the real world, stand up to the variants and make it unlikely vaccinated people can transmit the virus.
“In the last two weeks, the cases in this country have dropped by a third. In the last two weeks, we have had increasing available vaccine, and we now have available and eligible people between the ages of 12 and 15,” Walensky said.
She also pointed to a “coalescence of more science that has emerged just in the last week” in three areas.
“One is the effectiveness of the vaccines in general in real world populations. One is the effectiveness against variants, which was just published last week. And then the effectiveness in preventing transmissibility,” Walensky said.
President Joe Biden also welcomed the new guidance during a Rose Garden address.
“Today is a great day for America,” Biden said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask,” he said, summarizing the new guidance and encouraging more Americans to roll up their sleeves. “Get vaccinated – or wear a mask until you do.”