PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — The CDC announced fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks under most circumstances on Thursday. It’s the day many people have been waiting for and it came unexpectedly.
The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but could ease restrictions for reopening workplaces and schools.READ MORE: Philadelphia Police Begin Cracking Down On ATVs, Dirt Bikes Just 2 Days After City Closes Loophole
It will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds. The announcement comes as the CDC and the Biden Administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — people who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot.
The eased guidance comes two weeks after the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors in all settings and outdoors in large crowds.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, announced the new guidance on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said.
Dr. Stephen Gluckman, with Penn Medicine, says the rapidly declining number of COVID-19 cases means the risk of being infected has been greatly reduced. He says the vaccine has been effective against the variants of COVID-19.
“Surprised but positive surprise, I mean it just sort of came out of the blue, it’s great, it’s time,” Dr. Gluckman said. “I think it means we’re heading in the right direction. I think it’s gonna still take a little while before we can say it’s over.”
During a virtual meeting Tuesday on vaccinations with a bipartisan group of governors, President Joe Biden appeared to acknowledge that his administration had to do more to model the benefits of vaccination.
“I would like to say that we have fully vaccinated people; we should start acting like it,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, told Biden. “And that’s a big motivation, get the unvaccinated to want to get vaccinated.”
“Good point,” Biden responded. He added, “we’re going to be moving on that in the next little bit.”READ MORE: Philadelphia Police Searching For Missing 73-Year-Old Irvin Groce
Evidence from the U.S. and Israel shows the vaccines are as strongly protective in real-world use as they were in earlier studies, and that so far they continue to work even though some worrying mutated versions of the virus are spreading.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf reported Thursday 66.2% of residents 18 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and 46.7% of residents 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
There have been 9,452,364 COVID-19 vaccines administered. Pennsylvania is listed tenth in the national ranking in first doses administered.
Pennsylvania’s daily vaccine update:
66.2% of PA’ians 18+ have received at least one dose
46.7% of PA’ians 18+ fully vaccinated
9,452,364 vaccines administered
National ranking in first doses administered: 10
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) May 13, 2021
Earlier this month, Wolf announced the Commonwealth’s mask mandate will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.
The more people continue to get vaccinated, the faster infections will drop — and the harder it will be for the virus to mutate enough to escape vaccines.
And while some people still get COVID-19 despite vaccination those infections tend to be milder, shorter and harder to spread to others.MORE NEWS: Starr Restaurant Group Canvasses Rittenhouse Square For Employees, Offering Signing Bonus To New Hires
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and The Associated Press contributed to this report.