Today the CDC opened up their recommendations about masking outdoors, freeing us in time for summer, especially if you are vaccinated, and most circumstances if you are not vaccinated. Dining with a large group of friends or going to a crowded outdoor event is safer if you are vaccinated. We were expecting and hoping for this, since transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is rare outdoors, only in specific, crowded circumstances.
During my career in medicine I relied on the CDC for advice and guidance, especially regarding infectious disease and for travel medicine advice. I wrote last year about the hit their reputation took earlier in the pandemic. Their messaging had been influenced by political appointees, which led to some confused advice and loss of reputation. But they are getting their game back. These new pages really help spell out what we can do with and without masks. Check out their website on data about vaccinations. They have pages up with guidance about what is safe if fully vaccinated and with excellent graphics showing the advantages of being fully vaccinated, as well as choosing safer activities.
This announcement is needed and timely. In many ways, the media and CDC and others emphasize the risks and bad news, rather than the good news. The vaccines have been an amazing success story, Already, hospitalizations and deaths in the elderly have plummeted. Data shows that they decrease transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Those of us who have been fully vaccinated know the relief we feel to be protected, which is a good feeling. Along with relieving the fear of giving COVID-19 to someone else.
But we have continued to wear masks while slowly expanding our contacts. This announcement is the beginning of a return to a new normal. This also may be a stimulus for some who are hesitant to finally get their jabs, since they can now see an advantage.
This is good news indeed. A huge step forward, but we are still not completely out of the danger zone as a nation. We have too many who are resisting vaccination and we worry about the new variants. Fortunately, there is data that the vaccines work against some of the more common variants. We don’t yet know about the double mutant variant that is devastating India right now. I like my favorite geeky comic XKCD’s take on the situation. For now we can relax a little and be encouraged, visiting with vaccinated friends and family, seeing their smiles for the first time in a long time.
Wash your hands, cover your nose (indoors), keep safe six (indoors), and smile!
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.
https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/92297 CDC mask