CDC: Fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors, with a few exceptions

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is easing indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.

Posted: May 13, 2021 2:06 PM
Updated: May 13, 2021 5:23 PM

(UPDATED) People fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 briefing. "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."

Calling it an "exciting and powerful moment," Walensky said the science supports the updated CDC guidance that "anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities -- large or small -- without wearing a mask or physical distancing."

She cited three studies -- one from Israel and one from the United States -- that show vaccines work.

The Israeli study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed the vaccine was 97% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 and 86% effective against asymptomatic infection in over 5,000 health care workers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the following statement Thursday evening:

"In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening. We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with Dr. Zucker and our partners and health experts in surrounding states."

There have been reports of "breakthrough" infections among vaccinated people in the United States -- a small number among more than 117 million people in the United States who are now fully vaccinated. Walensky noted that "the resulting infection is more likely to have a lower viral load, may be shorter in duration, and likely less risk of transmission to others."

Walensky's announcement has a few caveats. She warned that people who are immune compromised should speak with their doctors before giving up their masks.

The requirement to wear masks during travel -- on buses, trains, planes and public transportation -- still stands, Walensky said, and guidance for travel will be updated as science emerges.

She also said that "the past year has shown us that this virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse, there is always a chance we may need to make a change to these recommendations."

People who develop COVID-19 symptoms, even those who are vaccinated, should put their mask back on and get tested, Walensky said.

The science is clear, too, for unvaccinated people, Walensky said: "You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others. You should still mask and you should get vaccinated right away."

But once someone is fully vaccinated, she said, "you can shed your mask."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2362682

Reported Deaths: 54846
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings31550210709
Queens30350010134
Suffolk2253653502
Nassau2050193243
Bronx2006696685
New York1599194598
Westchester1400252327
Erie980631875
Richmond849681901
Monroe771961151
Orange54045887
Rockland50441767
Onondaga45101704
Dutchess33437483
Albany28073368
Oneida25360538
Niagara21881382
Broome21369381
Saratoga18186185
Ulster16145270
Schenectady15071214
Rensselaer13084154
Putnam1170595
Chautauqua10622154
Oswego9402100
Chemung8837142
St. Lawrence8646115
Ontario840595
Steuben8179155
Cayuga7760100
Sullivan771780
Jefferson728571
Wayne680477
Cattaraugus662296
Genesee5959126
Herkimer5905115
Tompkins579559
Clinton546434
Madison530296
Fulton520497
Livingston510264
Montgomery4978133
Cortland472769
Warren460276
Columbia4558107
Tioga434466
Chenango411285
Otsego411050
Allegany394692
Greene387682
Wyoming386854
Washington383761
Orleans356683
Franklin337615
Lewis312336
Delaware299040
Seneca242258
Schoharie204120
Essex191429
Yates137126
Schuyler125316
Hamilton4043
Unassigned13031
Out of NY0285
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