Wait, does this mean the pandemic is over for vaccinated people?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday abruptly...

Posted: May 14, 2021 3:23 PM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday abruptly changed its guidance on masks and social distancing, saying people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 don't have to wear masks indoors, and they don't have to keep their distance from others.

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

Walensky said the science in three areas led to the change.

"One is the effectiveness of the vaccines in general and in a real-world population. One is the effectiveness against variants, which was just published last week, and then the effectiveness in preventing transmissibility," Walensky said.

That's in addition to a drop in new Covid-19 cases and the widespread availability of vaccines and access to them.

One caveat to note: People with compromised immune systems should consult with their doctor before going without a mask, even if fully vaccinated, the CDC said.

As of Thursday, almost 36% of Americans were fully vaccinated, with almost 46% of adults fully vaccinated.

The guideline change raised a lot of questions, however. Here's a look at some of them.

Does this mean we can go back to normal?

Though he wouldn't go so far as to say the pandemic is over, for those who are fully vaccinated, the guideline change means a return to something very close to normalcy, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN after the announcement.

"Being able to go around without a mask, indoors as well as outdoors, is really a big step in that direction," Fauci said. "I wouldn't want to declare victory prematurely, but I'm saying this is clearly a step in the direction that we want to go."

"If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic," the CDC says in its guidelines.

"It is an amazing step forward," Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN's Erin Burnett. "It says we are on the right path."

Does this mean I can throw away my masks?

Masks will still be needed for a while, as local, institutional and governmental regulations take precedence over the CDC's guidance.

As the CDC says on its website: "Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

Masks will still be required for travel, since the Biden administration's transportation mask mandate will stay in place through September 13, US Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told CNN on Thursday.

Institutions and businesses also could still keep mask requirements in place, as could the states and cities that still have them.

"There are going to be institutions, clearly, that are going to be saying -- and that could be airlines, we know certain colleges are also saying -- if you're not vaccinated, you're not going to come on campus to classes in real time, and there are going to be some institutions that might be saying the same thing," Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Masks will still be needed for health care settings, the CDC said.

Fully vaccinated residents of long-term care facilities and their visitors may visit in a private room without masks, according to Cristina Crawford, senior manager of public affairs for the American Health Care Association.

Unvaccinated people, including children, also still need to wear a mask to protect themselves and others from getting the coronavirus, of course.

Will the relaxed guidance lead to more people getting shots?

Giving vaccinated people the freedom to go maskless and get close to others again is exactly the sort of reward pundits have been calling for as real incentives to get vaccinated.

"The incentive for getting vaccinated should be that you can go into your workplace, that you can go into movie theaters and restaurants," George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and co-director of its Center for Behavioral Decision Research, told CNN before Thursday's announcement by the CDC. "And, perhaps, that you don't have to wear a mask all the time."

Collins, of the NIH, said while we should all feel "really good about this" announcement, there are still "a lot of people who haven't gotten that first shot."

"I hope this will encourage them to see this as a wonderful opportunity to be liberated, as I know. I got no mask on, I'm smiling, I'm looking at other people's faces I haven't seen in a while."

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said her state "welcomes this good news" from the CDC.

"Finally, we are seeing some encouraging, common sense guidance from the CDC," Ivey said in a statement. "Aside from the COVID-19 vaccine being safe and effective, it is also allowing us to do the things we love and enjoy."

It may lead to more people getting vaccinated, but that's not why the CDC changed its guidelines, Walensky said.

"This may serve as an incentive for some people to get vaccinated, but that is not the purpose here," Walensky said.

If the CDC's announcement isn't enough to move people to get vaccinated, here's another reason: Cleveland Clinic said Thursday that more than 99% of people with Covid-19 in its hospitals from January 1 and mid-April were not fully vaccinated.

How will we know whether someone has been vaccinated?

Without a vaccine passport or other sort of certification, in a public setting, no one will be able to tell the vaccinated from the unvaccinated.

CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said she was "shocked by the CDC's abrupt reversal of their guidelines for vaccinated people."

"While I agree that vaccinated can choose what they want to do, this only works if there's a way to check vaccination status. Otherwise, what's to stop the unvaccinated from endangering everyone?" Wen tweeted.

"Essentially, the CDC today eliminated mask mandates and social distancing," Wen told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "They're saying it's all an honor code from now on. And so it's actually going to be a disincentive."

"There are a lot of people who never wanted to get vaccinated, never wanted to wear masks," Wen said. "Now, they could just say, 'Oh, I'm vaccinated.'"

But stopping people at the doors of the grocery store or bowling alley to check for a vaccine card probably won't work, Fauci said.

"I think there's going to be a pushback against questioning somebody when they walk in, because you can never validate or prove that they're telling you the truth," Fauci said.

And questioning people would be "virtually a functional equivalent of a vaccine passport, and I don't think that's going to work," Fauci said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 76°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
High pressure moves into our area and will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the next several days. This will mean drier weather in store for our area for several days. However, by this weekend, things could change as a tropical system threatens our area.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather