CDC updates mask guidance; retailers' in-house rules sill apply

Philip A. Janquart

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday a major update in its guidance concerning masks and physical distancing.

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a video statement. 

"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."

The relaxed guidelines come after "numerous reports and literature that demonstrate the safety and real-world effectivess of the authorized vaccines," she said.

Walensky encouraged people who are immune compromised, however, to "speak with a doctor" before ditching their masks.

"There are three recently published studies: one from Israel published in the Journal of American Medical Association ... and two from the United States, both published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality weekly report, which all show that COVID-19 vaccinations work," she continued. "In addition, we are accumulating data that our authorized vaccines are effective against the varients that are circulating in this country.

"Finally, we know that in the rare event that people get infected after the vaccine, the resulting infection is  more likely to have a lower viral load, be shorter in duration and likely less risky of transmission to others."

Mask mandates for vaccinated persons are being lifted across the nation, but many are confused, wondering if they still need to wear them inside privately-owned businesses.

"Businesses can still require masks," said a spokeswoman for Southwest District Health. "They can do what they feel is best for their their employees and customers, and our board members have been very supportive of that."

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