New CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors, but many companies like Starbucks and some state and local governments have yet to relax their own mask rules.
“The whole country is not a homogeneous space,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD said Thursday, explaining that the CDC does not override state and local restrictions. “So we have some jurisdictions that have higher levels of cases. We have some jurisdictions that have lower levels of vaccine administration.”
Big companies like Walmart, Target, Kroger, Home Depot, CVS, Walgreens, Macy’s and Starbucks maintain policies requiring employees and shoppers to hide – at least for now, according to Insider.
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the latest CDC guidelines, and soliciting input from associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” a spokesperson for Kroger to Insider.
Two unions representing grocery and retail workers said CDC guidelines needed clarification and put their members at risk.
“While we all share the desire to return to normal without a mask, the current CDC guidelines are confusing and ignore the impact they will have on essential workers who are frequently exposed to people who are not. not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks, ”Marc Perrone of the United Food and Commercial Workers said in a statement.
Lisa LaBruno, senior executive vice president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said the group is looking for consistency from the CDC.
“Today’s CDC mask announcement creates ambiguity for retailers as it does not fully align with national and local orders,” she said. “These conflicting positions place retailers and their employees in extremely difficult situations. We urge state and local governments to coordinate with the CDC as additional guidance is released on the path to normalcy. “
Walt Disney World May Relax Mask Policy
In response to the CDC’s guidance, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek said the theme park mask policy could be dropped or relaxed this summer, according to the company’s website. He did not provide an exact timeline.
Current policy requires guests over 2 years old to wear masks, except when eating, drinking, swimming or taking a photo outdoors, as long as the appropriate physical distance is maintained.
Disney is already relaxing other restrictions, with temperature controls to be removed on May 16 and physical distancing measures reduced.
Cuomo tells New York to review its guidelines
Some governors wish to study the guidelines before deciding whether to accept them or not.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is one of them, saying the state “has always relied on facts and science to guide us through the worst of this pandemic and our reopening. successful ”.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the CDC’s new directions, but also said they needed to be revisited, according to The New York Times.
A spokesperson for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper also said the state’s inner mask rule would remain in effect for the time being, the Time reported. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has previously said the state mask mandate will remain in place until June 15 if the number of cases continues to decline.
Yet the Time reported that at least seven Democratic-led states began lifting mask mandates Thursday after the CDC’s announcement: Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania .
“It’s a hell of a boon for people who have been annoyed by this mask,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who started a meeting Thursday by removing his mask. “It’s a very good reason to get vaccinated. This photo is a ticket to break free from masks.
Several states run by Republican governors, like Texas, have already relaxed mask rules.
New CDC guidelines say people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to wear masks or physical distancing, regardless of the location or size of the gathering.
Walensky said there were clear exceptions. Those with symptoms should always wear masks, according to the CDC, and everyone should wear masks when traveling by air, bus or train and inside hospitals, homeless shelters and prisons.
“Science shows that if you are fully vaccinated you are protected,” Walensky said, saying travel advice would be updated soon.
CDC’s change surprised many public health players
The CDC’s announcement surprised many health experts, who expected a federal mask policy to last at least several more months, according to The New York Times.
The document interviewed 723 epidemiologists between April 28 and May 10 – before the CDC announced the new mask guidelines.
When asked to predict how long Americans would need to wear masks indoors with people whose immunization status they do not know, only 5% of respondents said Americans would no longer need to wear a mask indoors by summer.
The survey said 26% thought masks should be worn in these situations from now on, 26% said for more than a year, 29% said a year and 15% said six months.
When asked if a mask should be worn outside in a large outdoor crowd, 88% of epidemiologists said yes, even for those fully vaccinated.
Many respondents noted that the masks protect unvaccinated people and people with underlying health conditions.
“Until community transmission is lower, it protects the entire community and others in the room from wearing masks,” said Julia Raifman, ScD, assistant professor of public health at Boston University . Time.
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