New Mask Guidelines from the C.D.C.

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by Heather Suraci.

New mask C.D.C. guidelines are not mandatory to follow, so it is up to states to determine their own mask rules.

Heather Suraci, editor in chief

The C.D.C. now says it is safe for fully vaccinated people to take their masks off in most indoor settings. States, cities, and businesses are still sorting through what to do with the guidance.

More than a year after federal health officials told Americans to cover their faces when venturing out in public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that fully vaccinated people could start taking off their masks indoors. Of course, many do not know what to think of this news.

These new federal guidelines have been announced amid a steep decline in coronavirus cases as well as the expansion of vaccine eligibility to everyone 12 and older. It is evident that the C.D.C, as well as the government, are confident in the new mask guidelines as much change has come about as far as COVID-19 rules go. However, despite these apparent steps to forge forward, the new mask mandate has come with caveats and confusion as the news sent state and local officials, as well as private companies, scrambling to decide whether and when to update their own rules.

Many are left wondering what exactly the new rules imply. The new rules do not mean that masks are no longer recommended anywhere as the federal guidance is extensive. Fully vaccinated people (those who have received their final Covid-19 vaccination at least two weeks ago) no longer need to wear masks outdoors or in most indoor settings. However, the agency was not specific about masking in some settings, including schools. And even fully vaccinated people are still told to cover their faces when visiting health care facilities while flying or taking public transit and in congregate settings such as homeless shelters, as well as prisons or jails.

As far as local rules are concerned, the C.D.C.’s guidelines do not override mask orders issued by states, counties, or cities. But in the hours after the new policy was announced on Thursday, officials in some parts of the country began to adjust their rules to align with federal guidance. Others had yet to weigh in publicly, and some said they were keeping their rules in place while they reviewed the C.D.C.’s suggestions.