CDC releases new guidance on outdoor mask-wearing

Vaccinate PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The CDC released new guidance Tuesday, changing the rules for outdoor mask-wearing.

U.S. health officials Tuesday said fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers, and those who are unvaccinated can go without a face covering outside in some cases, too.

“There’s increasing data that suggests transmission is happening indoors rather than outdoors,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. She added recent studies point to indoor settings leading to infections in more than 90% of the observed infections.

With nearly 100-million Americans fully vaccinated, health officials say the risk of spreading COVID-19 outdoors is very low.

The announcement came from the CDC during a White House COVID Task Force briefing. President Biden will share his remarks in a press conference Tuesday. The stream is expected to begin at 11:15 and will be available above. His remarks will likely feature points on vaccine hesitancy.

Many Americans are still holding off on getting their shots, especially the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine that is now back in use after an 11-day pause due to concerns about the risk of blood clots.

Pennsylvania Health officials say that risk is extremely low and the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

More than 200,000 Pennsylvanians received the J&J vaccine including eligible Pennsylvania PreK-12 teachers, before the federal pause.

“I think it was the right thing to do to review the data very carefully and put a temporary pause on the vaccine and now restart use of the vaccine after we’ve had a chance to analyze it,” said Dr. Graham Snyder, UMPC medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology.

But even when it comes to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, there are problems with follow-throughs.

The CDC is reporting that more than five million people have missed their second dose within the recommended window.

But for those who are vaccinated, Tuesday’s announcement is expected to loosen the guidelines when it comes to enjoying time outdoors.

“We’ve learned a lot about the virus in the last year and recent research really shows a very small percentage of infections,” said Dr. Ryan Ribeira, assistant medical director, Stanford Hospital Emergency Dept. “Less than 10% happen outdoors.”

While we don’t know exactly what the change in mask wearing guidelines will look like, it will likely breakdown who the change applies to and give recommendations on things like social distancing while outdoors without a mask.

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