The first weekend since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new masks guidance came to a close on Sunday, enabling those who have been fully vaccinated to return to normalcy by removing their masks in most settings. Businesses and community members in Columbia's Five Points District were both excited and hesitant about the change.
States, businesses uncertain over CDC's new masks guidance
Others have been confused by the current mask guidance, with businesses clinging to mask criteria frequently left to find out who has received the shot and who has not. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), only about 36 percent of the state's population had been completely vaccinated, meaning the rest of the residents will still need to follow safety measures. Some people claimed they have seen fewer people wearing masks since the CDC's most recent update, WLTX via MSN, reported.
Bring your mask with you if you're going to CVS or Target. If you're going to Trader Joe's or Starbucks, though, you can leave it in the car, provided you're fully vaccinated. However, you'll need to wear a mask for the ride if you're using public transit.
After 405 days of encouraging every man, woman, and child to wear a mask, the CDC stunned most of the states this week, including health professionals, when it announced that vaccinated Americans could largely avoid wearing masks. Businesses, governors, and schools scrambled to adapt, and a tangled mess of mask guidelines emerged, based on the state, district, or store an individual was in.
The current CDC policy also poses several serious concerns: Can employers demand evidence of vaccination before allowing a worker to work without a mask? Should companies need proof of identification upon entry? If teens qualifying for the vaccination aren't vaccinated, would they be refused entry to a school without a mask? Although 24 states and the District of Columbia had some state-wide mask requirement in effect at the time of the announcement, governors said they were not consulted in advance on the initiative.
Gov. Janet Mills of Maine told reporters she was "anxious" to hear from the CDC about how to tell the difference between those who have been vaccinated and others who have not. On the other hand, Mills declared on Friday that she was on board and that the state would follow the CDC masks guidance as policy.
Several health experts said they were taken aback when they expected new mask guidelines to arrive after more Americans had been fully vaccinated, ABC News reported. Nearly 36 percent of the United States population has been vaccinated, and the vaccination rate has slowed.
CDC defended its decision to ease masks-wearing guidance
On Sunday, the CDC director defended the agency's decision to loosen mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated people, insisting that increased political pressure had nothing to do with the sudden policy change. On FOX News Sunday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, "I'm delivering the data to the medical papers in the same way as the science is delivered to the medical journals. And it evolved. When we have the detail, I deliver it as soon as I can."
According to updated recommendations issued last week, fully vaccinated individuals, those two weeks past their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, should stop wearing masks in crowds and most indoor settings, as well as social distancing. People who are either partly vaccinated or unvaccinated, on the other hand, have to wear masks, said the CDC. Per SFGate, Masks are also needed in crowded indoor areas such as buses, airlines, hospitals, jails, and homeless shelters, as per the guidelines.