The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing in most indoor and outdoor locations except under certain circumstances.
The CDC advised that all people should still mask and social distance in the most populated places, like public transportation and during travel.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a White House COVID-19 briefing. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.
However, the vaccination rate in the U.S. has stalled after the initial demand for the vaccine passed. And according to a New York Times report on state and federal data, the vaccination rate among people of color is still well below the average, leaving many still vulnerable to the pandemic.
Fully vaccinated people are at virtually no risk of serious disease and only at minimal risk of spreading the virus to others. However, there is no way to know who is fully vaccinated or not, or if non-vaccinated people are not wearing masks or social distancing, which can put non-vaccinated people of color at risk.
In the U.S. so far, 58.9% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but vaccine rates are steadily dropping from over 4 million per day in March to less than 1.5 million on some more recent days.
President Biden still aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults with at least their first dose by July 4, while taking into account people who may be hesitant to get the vaccine.
“Now that we have the vaccine supply, we’re focused on convincing even more Americans to show up and get the vaccine that is available to them,” Biden told reporters at the White House last week.
“If we succeed in this effort… then Americans will have taken a serious step towards a return to normal.”