Tags: Coronavirus | cdc | rochelle walensky | masks | covid

CDC Director Walensky: Changes on Outdoor Masks Being Considered

(NBC/"Today")

By    |   Thursday, 22 April 2021 01:41 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering revisions to its mask guidance amid growing questions about whether it is still necessary for people to continue wearing masks outside now that more than 84 million adults in the United States are fully vaccinated, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency's director, said Thursday.

"We’ll be looking at the outdoor masking question, but also in the context of the fact that we still have people who are dying of COVID-19," Walensky on NBC's "Today." 

Her comments come as several states that have mask orders still in effect are considering moves to loosen their restrictions. Both North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says he wants to lift all restrictions by June 1, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a change on outdoor masks by June. In addition, Connecticut plans to lift its outside mask requirements in mid-May and change a mandate requiring masks to be worn inside into guidance saying they should be worn. 

"One of the things I think that is really important to understand is while there is wonderful news and we're getting more and more people vaccinated every day, we still had 57,000 cases of COVID yesterday," Walensky said Thursday. "We still had 733 deaths ... we will be looking at the outdoor masking question but it is also in the context of the fact we still have people who are dying of COVID."

Meanwhile, an advisory panel will meet Friday concerning whether to lift a pause on the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine, which has been on hold after a handful of rare blood clotting issues were reported, and Walensky said she did not want to get ahead of the committee by saying whether the vaccinations will resume.

Europe has resumed the J&J vaccinations and Walensky said she does feel the urgency to resume them in the United States as well. 

"We need to make a decision quickly and I'm really hopeful that we'll be able to use the vaccine soon," she said. 

Meanwhile, 200 million shots have gone out, with 25% of the country being fully vaccinated, but experts are warning that demand may be going down for the shots, and Walensky said the CDC has been planning for that. 

"I would consider it good news that we have enough vaccines out there and it is accessible enough," she said. "We have vaccines now within five miles of 90% of Americans, and we knew we were going to hit this point. We thought it would be around the late part of April and here we are. And now comes the hard work of working with our community core, trying to understand why people might be hesitant."

Walensky stressed that while many people may feel the science behind the vaccines was rushed, "we know that 100,000 people were enrolled in these clinical trials for these vaccines." 

When it comes to the country achieving herd immunity, the variants in COVID-19 are making that a "moving target," but the more people who have been vaccinated means the less transmission will happen, said Walensky.

The CDC is also still following the question of whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus, and if there are breakthrough cases with people getting sick. 

"Increasingly, data suggests about a third of them even if they get the virus are completely asymptomatic and many of them have such low virus that they can't transmit to others," said Walensky.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering revisions to its mask guidance amid growing questions about whether it is still necessary for people to continue wearing masks outside now that more than 84 million adults...
cdc, rochelle walensky, masks, covid
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2021-41-22
Thursday, 22 April 2021 01:41 PM
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