CDC director says health officials are ‘looking at’ whether or not people still need to wear masks outside to protect against COVID-19
- CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday that the agency is looking at whether or not people need to wear masks when they are outdoors
- She said cases and deaths are still high so the CDC is trying balance a ‘complex message’ of good news regarding vaccinations and coronavirus hotspots
- Walensky added that guidance about what fully vaccinated people can do, including mask-wearing, will continue to be updated as more people get shots
- More than 134.4 million Americans – 40.5% of the population – have received at least one dose and 87.5 million – 26.4% – are fully immunized
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the agency is looking at whether or not people still need to wear masks outside.
In an appearance on NBC’s TODAY show on Thursday, Dr Rochelle Walensky said officials is currently studying evidence to determine if Americans are at risk of catching COVID-19 if they are outdoors and not close to people.
But she added that any new guidance will have to be balanced with the fact that cases and deaths from coronavirus remain high.
‘This is a question that we’re looking at,’ she told host Savannah Guthrie.
‘One of the things I think that’s really important to understand is while there’s wonderful news and we’re getting more and more people vaccinated every single day, we still had 57,000 cases of Covid yesterday. We still have 733 deaths.
‘While we are really trying to scale up vaccination, we have this complex message that we still have hotspots in this country and we will be looking at the outdoor masking question, but it’s also in the context of the fact that we still have people who are dying of Covid.’
CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday on TODAY (pictured) that the agency is looking at whether or not people need to wear masks when they are outdoors
Walensky added that guidance about what fully vaccinated people can do, including mask-wearing, will continue to be updated as more people get shots. Pictured: New Yorkers in Central Park, April 18
There are two main methods by which the coronavirus spreads with the first being via droplets that are expelled into the air when a person coughs or sneezes.
Researchers say these droplets are about one-third the size of a human hair, but visible to the naked eye.
The second way is from aerosol particles that humans spray into air when we speak, which are one-onehundreth the size of a human hair and nearly impossible to see.
This method is more dangerous in terms of transmission, but can be lessened by avoiding crowded indoor spaces.
Studies have found that multi-layer cloth masks can block 50 percent to 70 percent of exhaled fine droplets and particles, and limit those that are not captured from forward spread.
In addition, masks with a high thread count can protect wears by filtering nearly 50 percent of fine particles less than one micron – thinner than a human hair.
Walensky was also asked if there is any incentive for people to get vaccinated if they are still required to wear masks outside, and if that guidance will be updated for fully vaccinated Americans.
Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine, either two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson jab.
Recently, the CDC has said fully vaccinated Americans can gather with unvaccinated family members and friends without any restrictions who live under one roof and can safely travel both domestically and internationally,
However, the agency has continued to recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public.
‘I mean isn’t part of this sort of a reward thing, where do the right thing and you’ll be rewarded. Do you balance that at all when you’re making these decisions about the guidance that you give? ‘Guthrie asked.
Walensky replied: ‘As we look at this guidance, to revise the guidance of what you can do when you’re vaccinated, that will be easier and easier to do as more and more people get vaccinated, absolutely.’
As of Thursday, more than 134.4 million Americans – 40.5 percent of the population – have received at least one dose and 87.5 million – 26.4 percent – are fully immunized.