CDC allows vaccinated people to go maskless outdoors. But keep them on indoors, says scientist

Two men, including one wearing a bandana face mask, sit at a restaurant patio table in Larkspur, California, February 13, 2021. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Sipa US

The CDC on Tuesday announced that fully vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear masks outside, such as when walking, running, cycling, or hiking alone. It also deemed safe: gathering outdoors among small groups of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people, plus eating at outdoor restaurants with multiple households. Masks should still be worn in crowded areas, such as outdoor venues for sports and performances. 

COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles have dropped far enough that the county will qualify next week for the yellow tier, the least restrictive level of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening plan. That means bars, restaurants, and movie theaters can increase indoor capacity. And bars that don’t sell food will be allowed to reopen indoors, as well as saunas and steam rooms. 

Omai Garner, the director of clinical microbiology at UCLA Health, says people are still at risk for COVID, and although a vaccinated person has a low risk of contracting the virus from someone unvaccinated, masks still provide protection, especially indoors. 

He adds that when you walk by a stranger, you can’t tell what their vaccination status is, thus the CDC is moving slowly in recommending behavioral changes for inoculated people. “[It] is to protect the unvaccinated from a disease that is devastating an entire country in India right now. We still have to stay vigilant.”

He adds that younger Americans are still not vaccinated, and the new CDC guidelines will also help protect them. 

Credits

Guest:

  • Omai Garner - Director of Clinical Microbiology at UCLA Health