CDC release new mask guidelines

Gwen Pane, Staff Writer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the national mask mandate on May 13, announcing that fully-vaccinated people, unless required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial law or regulation, may resume their activities without wearing a mask or socially distancing themselves. 

If you are travelling in the United States, you do not need to get tested or self-quarantine before or after travel. As for international travel, individuals need to be aware of the mask mandate wherever their destination is and meet those requirements if they do not coincide with the CDC’s guidelines.

The reasoning for this change to regulations resides in the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, which include the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Each has been deemed effective at preventing the disease, especially its more critical effects such as severe illness and death, and exceptionally reducing the risk of it being spread.

Prior to the alteration, the CDC required masks and strict physical distancing regardless of a person’s vaccination status. With the new rules, many states are easing restrictions on their own mask mandates. As of May 18, the state of Oregon chose to adapt with the updated regulations, allowing fully-vaccinated individuals to go about their activities both outdoors and indoors without a mask unless the business they are entering still chooses to require masks to be worn. However, if not fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks after final vaccine shot), then a mask and proper social distancing is still required in all settings.

Businesses that no longer require vaccinated individuals to wear masks in their stores include Walmart and Costco, while those still upholding the original mask mandate include common businesses such as Home Depot, Fred Meyer, Macy’s and CVS.

Due to the abruptness of the announcement and lack of elaboration on some points, many have misinterpreted or grown frustrated with the new guidelines.

“It was unexpected and lacked needed context for implementation by state and local public community,” stated member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, during a briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“People need to pay attention about what’s going on and pay attention to vaccination rates, pay attention to the involvement of these new variants and think about being prepared to sort of ramp things back up again,” warned another speaker at the meeting, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.