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New guidance in the US spurs confusion: to wear a mask, or not to?

With the pandemic claiming millions of lives all around the world, the people of the US are reluctant in letting go of the safety guidelines that were first issued to tackle the infection.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
May 15, 2021 2:53:04 pm
People go massless on the Atlanta Beltline on Friday, May 14, 2021, after the CDC updated their mask guidelines for COVID-19 vaccinated people. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

After the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people against Covid-19, the decision has generated a lot of confusion among the public — to wear masks or not to?

In a move that takes the United States one a step closer to pre-pandemic life, the CDC on Thursday eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor places. The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. But this will surely be a step forward in reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues.

What is the new CDC guidance?

The US CDC has advised that fully vaccinated people need not wear masks while outdoors and indoors in most places, and need not observe social distance. However, the relaxation does not apply to situations such as public transportation and prisons.

Those travelling within the US need not get tested before travel or self-quarantine after travel. The CDC also said vaccines are effective in preventing the Covid-19 and reduce the risk of virus spreading.

After the advisory was issued, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris appeared before reporters at the Rose Garden of the White House without wearing masks. Biden hailed the decision and called it “a great milestone, a great day for America”.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do,” he added.

However, the governors of New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia, and the mayors of New York City and Washington, all Democrats, have decided to review the new guidance from the CDC before adopting it. The states of Maryland and Virginia on Friday said they were following the new guidelines and lifting their indoor mask mandates. Most of the other states are yet to take a decision.

Confusion reigns

With the pandemic claiming millions of lives all around the world, the people of the US are reluctant in letting go of the safety guidelines that were first issued to tackle the infection.

Many are caught in a dilemma, especially in offices, malls and retail shops on whether to follow the CDC guidelines or wait until people are comfortable with the move before making it a rule.

People enjoy their time in an outside sitting area of a restaurant in Chicago’s Navy Pier Friday, May 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)

Also, as it is impossible to know whether a person is fully vaccinated or not, there are concerns that no one will be wearing masks and many among them could be unvaccinated.

However, many experts have lauded the CDC recommendation pointing out the high efficacy of the authorised vaccines to prevent the virus infection and its spread.

At least 36 per cent of the US population has been fully vaccinated so far, and cases have been dropping significantly for the past few days.

Authorities are hoping the new CDC guideline will encourage the rest of the population to get themselves vaccinated as early as possible to release the country from the clutches of the pandemic.

“If you are vaccinated and you’re making the decision to take off your mask… you are safe. If you are unvaccinated, then you’ve made the decision to take that risk… Unvaccinated people are still encouraged to get their shots to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus that is still circulating even as cases decline,” said CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said on Friday.

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