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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new face mask guidance on Thursday—vaccinated people can take their masks off in most places, indoors and outdoors—and what they thought was good news was met with confusion. Should stores let people in without masks? Should states end mask mandates? Can you trust someone when they "say" they are vaccinated? Why, just a few days ago, did the CDC say everyone should wear a mask? Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, appeared on This Week and Fox News Sunday this morning to explain. Read on for 6 essential points that help clarify the rules, and can save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID And Should Tell Your Doctor.
Dr. Walensky Said If You Are Not Vaccinated, You Are "Not Safe"
"The guidance that we released on Thursday is about individuals and what individuals are at risk of doing," said Dr. Walensky on This Week. "If they're vaccinated, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated, they are not safe. They should still be wearing a mask or better yet get vaccinated."
Dr. Walensky Said "This is Not Permission for Widespread Removal of Masks"
"We also need to say that this is not permission for widespread removal of masks," said Walensky. "For those who are vaccinated: It may take some time for them to feel comfortable removing their masks, but also that these decisions have to be made at the jurisdictional level. At the community level: Some communities have been hit harder than others have lower vaccination rates than others. We wanted to deliver the science at the individual level, but we also understand that these decisions have to be made at the community level."
Dr. Walensky Explained Why it Was Safe for Vaccinated People to Take Off Their Masks
"Let's celebrate this moment," said Walensky on This Week. "We're in a place in this pandemic, cases have been coming down in more than a third, just in the last two weeks. We have vaccine now across this country, widely available for anyone who wants it. And we now have science that has really just evolved even in the last two weeks that demonstrates that these vaccines are safe, they are effective. They are working in the population just as they did in the clinical trials, that they are working against our variants, that we have here circulating in the United States. And then if you were to develop an infection, why even if you got vaccinated, that you can't transmit that infection to other people."
What About Grocery Store Employees? Are They in Danger, Now That Unmasked People Can Come Into the Store?
"If those employees are actually vaccinated themselves, they are not at risk," Dr. Walensky told Fox News. "The other thing I want to make sure everybody understands is we're not a homogeneous country, right? There are some places that have more disease than others and less vaccination rates than others. And what I would say is in those communities, they should still be looking within those communities before removing mask policies."
Dr. Walensky Was Asked, Are Vaccinated People Supposed to Police Those Who are Unvaccinated?
"What I would say is those unvaccinated people need to work to protect themselves, need to continue to mask and better yet need to get vaccinated," said Walensky on This Week. "What we're asking our businesses to do, as they are starting to think about the guidance as to what this means for their workplaces, is to make it easy for paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated." She continued: "We are asking people to take their health into their own hands, to get vaccinated. And if they don't, then they continue to be at risk for the unvaccinated. Our policy has not changed this. We were going to get to a place in this pandemic where vaccinated people were going to be able to take off their mask. We're lucky to be there with the science that we have, and now we have to take this foundational step that is completely based in science and understand what it means as we open the entire country."
Dr. Walensky Said More Specific Guidance Will Come Soon
So should schools go mask free? Businesses? The CDC hasn't said directly—yet. "This had to be the first foundational step that we made in order to update all of our guidance, thousands of pages of guidance," Walensky said on Fox. "We need to update our school guidance, our childcare guides, our camp guidance, our travel guidance. We have a lot of work that we need to do. We are actively working on that now, and we're actively doing outreach with the community to do so." So get vaccinated if you have not yet, and to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss this special report: This Popular Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.