President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris applaud the success of US Coronavirus vaccination program at a White House press conference, May 13, 2021 (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Joe Biden tells Americans, “Get vaccinated or wear a mask”, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eases guidance on mask-wearing amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The CDC advised on Thursday that fully-vaccinated peope may go without masks and do not have to maintain social distance in most outdoor settings.
“We have all longed for this moment,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a White House news conference. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
Walensky said the new guidelines are possible because of a significant fall in infections and rise in vaccinations. In late April, the CDC advised fully vaccinated people that they could remove their masks outdoors but not in crowded places.
The US recorded 38,529 new Coronavirus cases on Thursday, with a 31% drop in cases over the past two weeks and a decline from 300,669 on January 8.
The weekly average for deaths is 629, compared to 3,352 on January 12.
About 155 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose and 119 million people have been fully vaccinated.
However, amid widespread disinformation, many people are continuing to hold out against inoculations. About 2.09 million doses per day are being given, a 38% decrease from the record of 3.38 million in mid-April.
President Biden greeted the “great milestone, great day” of the altered CDC recommendation while urging Americans to get vaccinations, He said of those who are not yet protected:
Please treat them with kindness and respect. We’ve had too much conflict, too much bitterness, too much anger, too much politicization of this issue about wearing masks.
The CDC said vaccinated Americans must comply with existing state, local, or tribal laws and regulations, including rules for businesses and workplaces.
However, national and local officials, businesses, and workers said they may not be able to require essential protections.
Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said, “While we all share the desire to return to a mask-free normal, today’s CDC guidance is confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.”
About two dozen states require masking in public. Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Washington State lifted mandates on Thursday after the CDC announcement.