Now that more people are vaccinated, the Center for Disease Control announces that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues.
The CDC put forth the new guidelines for vaccinated people on Tuesday bringing the nation one step closer to some form of normalcy. The agency notes that people should still wear masks inside regardless of vaccination status to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the science shows if you are vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
As of Tuesday, April 27, just under 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated with 42% receiving the first dose. In New York City, the numbers are pretty much the same with 2.4 million people being fully vaccinated and 3.5 million who have received the first dose.
The city continues to see COVID-19 cases go down. The percentage of people testing positive citywide for COVID-19 on a seven-day rolling average is 3.5%. The daily number of people at city hospitals for suspected COVID-19 is 140 patients.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that it will be the choice of New Yorkers over what they’re more comfortable with doing when it comes to wearing masks outdoors. He believes people will still wear masks. The mayor said people will probably wear masks indoors for the next couple of months.
“We’ve talked about June as an important turning point moment. I think people should anticipate keeping those masks on indoors, certainly during May and June,” de Blasio said. “And then we’ll reassess from there.”
After a pause in use, the CDC greenlit resumed use of the one-dose Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine after pausing it due to six women experiencing severe blood clots. Labels on the J&J vaccine now come with a new warning about blood clot risks.
“We are confident that this vaccine continues to meet our standards for safety, effectiveness and quality,” Walensky said. “We recommend people with questions about which vaccine is right for them have those discussions with their health care provider.”
However, for many people the resuming of the use of the J&J vaccine is still causing vaccine hesitancy. Not only are people not getting the vaccine but reports indicate that millions are not getting their required second shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Many report not wanting to deal with the side effects they experienced after receiving the first dose. Others believe they are immune enough after getting only the first shot.
Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health, says Black and Latino communities are grappling with vaccine misinformation. He believes more needs to be done to build vaccine confidence and access for underserved populations.
According to the CDC, the race and ethnicity was known for 55% of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Just 9% of Black Americans have received the vaccine as of April 19. In New York State, Blacks made up 11% of those vaccinated. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 10% of Black Americans said they don’t plan on getting vaccinated.
“With COVID, what we saw from the early surveys in let’s say May, June and September was that an increasing proportion of African Americans were less likely to accept the vaccine,” Pérez-Stable said. “Fortunately, we were able to mobilize physicians, African American leaders, as well as science leaders in government to address this directly.”
Incentives continue for those who are vaccinated. The European Union announced this week that vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe. Rules will vary country by country and no process has been announced on how Americans will be able to prove they’ve been fully vaccinated.
In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice is offering $100 savings bonds to residents age 16 to 35 who choose to get vaccinated. All West Virginians in the age range who have already been vaccinated will also receive the savings bond. Justice said the incentive is to speed up a reopening of the state by meeting a goal of getting 70% of the state’s population fully vaccinated.
As more people are getting vaccinated, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services are warning against fake vaccination cards being made and/or purchased online. Fake vaccination record cards have been advertised on social media websites, as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs.
The FBI says that buying fake vaccine cards, making your own vaccine cards and filling out blank vaccination record cards with false information is against the law.