CDC Relaxes Outdoor Mask Guidance In Some Situations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday announced relaxed guidelines on masking outdoors in certain conditions, saying Americans who are fully vaccinated don’t have to wear masks outdoors unless they’re in a large crowd of strangers.

“Today, I hope, is a day when we can take another step back to the normalcy of before,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do. Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.”

People who are unvaccinated can go outside without masks in some situations, too.

The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as 14 days after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or 14 days after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The updated guidance comes as more than half of U.S. adults, about 140 million people, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and about 37% have been fully vaccinated.

Walensky said the decision was driven by the vaccination numbers; declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths; and research showing that less than 10% of documented instances of transmission of the virus happened outdoors, the Associated Press reported.

Specifically, the CDC says whether they are fully vaccinated or not, people do not have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household. They can also go without masks in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people.

The CDC recommends those who aren’t vaccinated keep wearing masks at small outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people and while dining outdoors with friends from multiple households.

Everyone, whether they’re fully vaccinated or not, should continue wearing masks at crowded outdoor events such as concerts or sporting events, according to the CDC.

The agency continues to recommend masks at indoor spaces, such as hair salons, restaurants, shopping centers, gyms, museums and movie theaters even for those who are vaccinated.

In other news:

  • Dallas County Monday reported 322 additional COVID-19 cases representing totals from Saturday and Sunday as well as an additional nine deaths, and Tuesday reported an additional 175 cases and 10 deaths. 
  • The state lifted the pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Saturday, and the county resumed offering it today.
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center Saturday announced scientists identified the first cases of the Brazilian COVID-19 in North Texas. UTSW sequencing protocols show the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7) has become dominant in North Texas – found in about 55% of sampled individuals – followed by the California (B.1.429), New York (B.1.526), and Brazil variants (P.1), which were each found in about 7% of those sampled. For the last several months, all positive COVID-19 cases at UT Southwestern have been tested for variants. 
  • The city of Dallas is no longer requiring appointments for vaccinations at The Potter’s House hub site.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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