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: 2111162

Reported Deaths: 53597
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings28073410464
Queens2774519962
Suffolk2011393400
Nassau1837273176
Bronx1836646583
New York1383674505
Westchester1297062291
Erie896031809
Richmond750301840
Monroe690351111
Orange48330843
Rockland46958963
Onondaga38960677
Dutchess29478445
Albany24708356
Oneida22633516
Niagara20045374
Broome18630366
Saratoga15379168
Ulster13915257
Schenectady13207205
Rensselaer11232143
Putnam1062192
Chautauqua8957145
Chemung7772136
Oswego762692
Ontario740893
Steuben6957145
Sullivan667676
St. Lawrence664497
Cayuga633892
Jefferson614968
Wayne578370
Cattaraugus572391
Genesee5436124
Herkimer5191109
Clinton483733
Madison456489
Livingston452360
Fulton442391
Tompkins435052
Montgomery4254127
Columbia4065104
Cortland392763
Tioga383163
Warren366057
Wyoming358353
Allegany355887
Chenango350476
Otsego346347
Greene340379
Washington316255
Orleans312083
Lewis281036
Franklin256312
Delaware238538
Seneca201156
Schoharie169217
Essex159326
Yates117926
Schuyler108014
Hamilton3132
Unassigned9717
Out of NY0250
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