CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky offered new COVID-19 agency guidance on Monday for small gatherings of fully-vaccinated people, saying that masks should still be considered a precaution even if you are vaccinated and are around others who are vaccinated as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued long-awaited advice to Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19, freeing them to take some liberties that the unvaccinated should not, including gathering indoors in small groups without precautions while still adhering to masking and distancing in public spaces.
The agency offered good news to grandparents who have refrained from seeing children and grandchildren for the past year, saying that vaccinated people may visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household so long as no one among the unvaccinated is at risk for severe disease if infected with the coronavirus.
In practice, that means fully vaccinated grandparents may visit unvaccinated healthy adult children and healthy grandchildren of the same household without masks or physical distancing. But the visit should be local — the agency still does not recommend travel for any American, vaccinated or not.
The agency’s recommendations arrived as state officials move to reopen businesses and schools amid a drop in virus cases and deaths. Federal health officials repeatedly have warned against loosening restrictions too quickly, including lifting mask mandates, fearing that the moves may set the stage for a fourth surge of infections and deaths. According to a New York Times database, the seven-day average of new cases was more than 58,700, as of Sunday, a level that remains near the peaks reported last summer.
“With more and more people getting vaccinated, each day we are starting to turn a corner, and as more Americans are vaccinated, a growing body of evidence now tells us that there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can resume at low risk to themselves,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said at a White House news conference on Monday.
But, she added, “While we work to quickly vaccinate people more and more each day, we have to see this through.”
The new advice is couched in caveats and leaves room for amendments as new data become available. The guidance is a “first step,” Dr. Walensky said. “It is not our final destination.”
The agency did not rule out the possibility that fully vaccinated individuals might develop asymptomatic infections and spread the virus inadvertently to others, and urged those who are vaccinated to continue practicing certain precautions.
In other words, even if the vaccine is fully rolled out to everyone tomorrow, the reality is that masks will still be necessary for some. And with the fact that a third of Americans are still refusing the vaccine, it may be a long time before we return to any semblance of normality.
Things are getting better, but we're still seeing 50,000+ cases per week, back where we were during the July 4th spike. We have a long road to go still, but now we have a path to get there.
That simply wasn't possibly under Trump. Never forget that.