COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The United States Centers for Disease Control announced new guides and recommendations for wearing masks Tuesday.
“Today is another day when we can take a step back to normal,” said CDC director Rochelle Walensky.
Walensky was assisted by the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team when she outlined some of the activities the agency considers it safe for people to participate in when both fully vaccinated and outdoors.
‘If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with vaccinated and unvaccinated people, or dine with friends from multiple households in an outdoor restaurant, science shows that if you are vaccinated you can safely do so exposed . ” Said Walensky.
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President Joe Biden highlighted the new guidelines shortly after their announcement by speaking from the north lawn of the White House, an outdoor venue where he removed his mask as he spoke.
“Starting today, you can meet up with a group of friends in a park and have a picnic. As long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do so without a mask,” he said. “While we still have a long way to go in this struggle, and much still remains to be done in May and June to bring us to July 4th, we have made amazing progress thanks to all of you the American people.”
Dr. Mark Herbert, an infectious disease specialist at Mt. Carmel, praised the move.
“This is a big step forward, especially given the weather today,” said Herbert. “It’s wonderful that we can go outside without a mask and feel more free.”
According to the CDC, many Americans can now go outside without a mask
At Goodale Park, it wasn’t difficult to find people who would agree with this feeling.
“It’s great to be able to walk up and down the short north and feel that the freedom of just that wind hits my face,” said Craig Nagy. “I think that’s probably why a lot of people come outside to actually breathe the fresh air instead of being inside and actually having to breathe through the mask.”
“It’s nice not having to wear it outside,” said Amy Edgar. “The breeze feels wonderful. I feel more secure because I have been vaccinated and because I am with vaccinated friends. So for me it’s a breeze. “
Some say they even got used to the face coverings and their benefits.
“The only thing I’ve learned is the mask, it’s not a bad thing,” said Phyllis Newman. “I haven’t had a cold for a year and a half. I wasn’t sick but when you’re outside and vaccinated like us, it’s a feeling of freedom not to wear a mask. “
Despite the protection they have given, some say their masks also limited their ability to interact with others.
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“I like to nod and smile at someone and actually see them smile at them instead of just asking what I’m thinking behind the mask,” said Nagy. “So it’s nice to have facial expressions together. I think we can be nicer and project that kindness to one another just by having these masks down now. “
“You don’t know what’s going on under the mask,” said Edgar. “My eyes may be kind, but maybe I’ll stick my tongue out at the guy.”
The change in guidelines confirms what many doctors have been saying for months about the safety of outdoor dining and other activities.
“To be exposed to the virus, you have to have direct contact with a breath secretion. So these are swept away much more easily outdoors, ”said Herbert. “Vaccinated people can hang out with groups of people outdoors, either in small groups or in larger, spaced-apart groups.”
However, the CDC said masks should still be used in certain outdoor environments and indoors at all times.
“We continue to recommend masking in crowded outdoor areas and venues such as crowded stadiums and concerts where the ability to maintain physical distance is limited and where many unvaccinated people may also be present,” said Walensky. “We know that the virus spreads very well indoors. Until more people are vaccinated and we still have more than 50,000 cases a day, using masks indoors provides additional protection. “
Officials hope that more people will continue to choose to have the vaccine protected.
“Even if you talk about variants, indoors and outdoors, get vaccinated and you are sure to have some level of protection,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID director.
“For those who haven’t had their vaccination, especially if you’re younger or think you don’t need it, this is another great reason to get vaccinated now, now,” said Biden.