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The latest guidelines from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on face masks drew mixed reactions as critics found it inconsistent with what the agency had recently recommended. The CDC on Thursday announced that fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” The announcement came days after CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky told a Senate hearing that Americans should continue wearing masks.
While some states have decided to keep the mask mandates, for now, in place, several states rushed to update their rules to match with federal guidelines even as just over 37% of the total US population has been fully vaccinated. According to the CDC, around 40% of the adult population is yet to receive at least one dose of vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
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After the mask mandate was lifted for fully vaccinated people, critics questioned how the authorities were supposed to enforce masking for unvaccinated individuals. When Walensky was asked at CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ whether she trusted people would wear a mask if they were unvaccinated, the CDC chief replied, “I think that people who were not inclined to wear a mask, were not inclined to wear a mask before Thursday.”
“What we’re really asking in those settings, is to say, in terms of the honour system, people have to be honest with themselves,” Walensky said. “You’re protected if you’re vaccinated, you’re not if you’re not vaccinated.”
In another TV appearance, Walensky stressed the health agency is asking people to take their health into their own hands by getting vaccinated. In an interview on ABC’s ‘This Week’, the CDC director said that the “foundational step” of lifting the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people was completely based on science. “For the unvaccinated, our policy has not changed,” she added.