Is America Unmasking Too Soon?

Fully vaccinated Americans can essentially go maskless for most normal activities, including large indoor gatherings, according to CDC guidancereleased yesterday.

“We have all longed for this moment,” CDC chief Rochelle Walensky said, CIDRAP reports.  
 

Exceptions: Nursing homes, prisons, buses, trains, and airplanes will still require masks. And school mask rules will be left to local jurisdictions.

Why the change? The stunning effectiveness of leading COVID-19 vaccines has helped drive case numbers to lows not seen since April 2020.

it's too soon, say epidemiologists. 80% of 700+ epidemiologists surveyed by The New York Times said they thought Americans would need to wear masks in public indoor places for at least another year.

Other expert takes: 

  • Leana Wen’s concern: The move didn’t come with a requirement for proof of vaccination—thus removing incentives for those who’ve resisted getting inoculated, the prominent physician wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
  • Bloomberg School epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers tweeted that she “would have preferred to see the new policy tied to incidence, e.g. <5 cases per 100,000 per day.” 
  • Lawrence Gostin, director of Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, says the CDC’s distinctions are arbitrary. “The difference between a supermarket, a restaurant or a gym (where masks aren’t required) and an airport (where they are) doesn’t make sense and isn’t supported by science,” he cautioned, Axios reports.
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