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    Unmasked: New Guidance Removes Most Mask Requirements

    A day we’ve all been waiting for.  And a day many think was past due.

    On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new COVID guidance effectively removing masking requirements for all fully vaccinated people.

    “Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address. “If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Get vaccinated – or wear a mask until you do.”

    The guidance retains requirements for masks in certain close-quarter public spaces such as airplanes and trains.

    “Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address. “If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Get vaccinated – or wear a mask until you do.”

    The new guidance comes after weeks of controversy about the CDC’s seeming unwillingness to accept overwhelming data indicating that fully vaccinated individuals are at little risk of either contracting the virus or spreading the virus to unvaccinated people.  Adding fuel to the debate was the CDC’s stringent guidance on young children – a demographic which has shown little vulnerability to COVID – being required to wear masks for all public activities, whether indoors and outside.  Critics pointed to the CDC’s position as evidence that it was basing its guidance on factors other than scientific data.  Those restrictions remain in place.

    Now the focus shifts to the states and to private businesses. While the number of states – largely governed by Republicans – that have already lifted all mask mandates has steadily grown over the past few weeks, some states remain cautious even in light of the CDC’s new guidance.

    On Thursday, the governors of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia, and the mayors of New York City and Washington, D.C., all Democrats, said they were taking the new guidance from the C.D.C. under advisement before adopting it. In deference to local authorities, the C.D.C. said vaccinated people must continue to abide by existing state, local, or tribal laws and regulations, and follow local rules for businesses and workplaces, according to the New York Times.

    Here in Illinois, today marks the first day of the “Bridge Phase” of COVID mitigations, which loosens many capacity and other restrictions on citizens and businesses throughout the state.  Governor J.B. Pritzker indicated yesterday that a “full re-opening” could be achieved as early as June 11.

     

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