Experts are warning about the unintended consequences of the CDC mask guidance

How should businesses respond to the CDC's surprise announcement that fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask in most situations?

Posted: May 15, 2021 2:48 PM
Updated: May 17, 2021 3:15 AM


Communities across the US ushered in a quick return to normalcy over the weekend as the country responded to the latest mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency said Thursday fully vaccinated Americans don't need to wear masks or social distance indoors or outdoors, with some exceptions, triggering announcements nationwide from state leaders and businesses who lifted their mask requirements for people who've gotten their Covid-19 shots.

But with a big part of the country still unvaccinated, some experts say the move came too fast and has resulted in many more Americans now shedding their masks than the CDC recommended.

'I think the CDC meant to say something really good, which is these vaccines are really protective,' emergency physician and CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen told CNN on Sunday. 'The thing is though, there were unintended consequences of their actions.'

'We've seen governors and mayors and business owners drop mask mandates, and as a result of that we've now made life much less safe for people who are unvaccinated, for immuno-compromised individuals and for young children who cannot yet be vaccinated,' Wen added.

Emergency physician Dr. Megan Ranney also expressed concern over the weekend about the Americans who haven't yet gotten a shot because of challenges with access, and how they may be affected by local leaders and business leaders lifting mask requirements.

'I would urge businesses to keep those mask mandates in place as long as possible in their businesses to protect their workers,' she told CNN. 'It's particularly an equity issue. We know that Black and Brown folks across the United States who are most often our frontline employees with public facing jobs, are also those who have had the hardest time accessing the vaccines.'

More than 47% of the US population has gotten at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose and more than 37% is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

'Not everybody has to rip off their mask'

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CNN on Sunday the agency's new guidelines don't mean that every American who's been vaccinated should take their masks off.

For example, Walensky said immuno-compromised people and others at higher risk should consult with their physicians before deciding to stop wearing a mask.

'Not everybody has to rip off their mask because our guidance changed,' she said. 'If you are concerned, please do consult your physician before you take off your mask.'

Walensky also said different communities across the US have different vaccination rates and different Covid-19 case rates, and people should take that into account when deciding whether to mask up or not.

She added that the CDC is asking businesses to make sure they help their employees get vaccinated so that they are safe.

Over the weekend, the agency also said schools should continue masking and using other coronavirus prevention strategies for at least the rest of this school year. Those strategies will be needed because students -- the ones who are authorized to receive a shot -- won't be fully vaccinated by the end of the academic year, the CDC said.

The Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine last week to include people 12 to 15 years old. Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the US.

Children who are not vaccinated against the virus will still need to wear masks in the classroom in the fall, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday.

'The unvaccinated group, or the elementary school children -- nothing has really changed for them,' Fauci said.

CDC got messaging wrong, expert says

There's a key part missing that could have helped make this guidance clearer for Americans and not led some communities to have to rely on the honor system, one expert said.

'The CDC has gotten the science right, but they've gotten the messaging wrong,' Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, told CNN on Sunday.

While those fully vaccinated are 'basically immune' to the virus, Reiner said, the question is how do communities keep others protected -- like children who aren't able to get the vaccine yet, or immuno-compromised Americans who may still be at risk.

'The way you would protect them, ideally, would be to know who's vaccinated and who's not vaccinated, and the unvaccinated folks would still be required to wear a mask. And this is where politics comes in,' Reiner said. 'If we had had a very simple electronic system from the beginning, basically you have a pass on your phone that turns green after you've been vaccinated, businesses and venues all over the country would be able to say, 'Good news, if you have a green pass you don't need to wear a mask.''

'We don't have that, so how do we go forward?'

The guidance issued last week, Walensky said, was just a first step to help local and state leaders make their own recommendations moving forward.

The agency is asking people to 'take their health into their own hands' and get vaccinated so they don't continue to be at risk, Walensky said in an interview on ABC's 'This Week.'

'For the unvaccinated, our policy has not changed,' she added. 'We were going to get to a place in this pandemic where vaccinated people were going to be able to take off their mask. We're lucky to be there with the science that we have, and now we have to take this foundational step that is completely based in science and understand what it means as we open the entire country.'

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1390015

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1541781574
Cuyahoga1361632341
Hamilton989691326
Montgomery681371161
Summit569981051
Lucas51769869
Butler48139663
Stark42350983
Lorain32165539
Warren30497338
Mahoning27564643
Clermont26081297
Lake24873422
Delaware22600147
Licking20818246
Fairfield20789223
Greene20667275
Trumbull20378516
Medina20178290
Clark18235332
Richland16749236
Portage16442231
Wood15973209
Allen14405261
Miami14063261
Muskingum12976155
Wayne12234244
Columbiana12046242
Tuscarawas11248271
Marion10935150
Pickaway10642129
Scioto10585127
Erie9888171
Ross9648177
Lawrence8967125
Hancock8637143
Ashtabula8509187
Geauga8272156
Belmont8262188
Jefferson7736175
Huron7566131
Union743951
Washington7396126
Athens712065
Sandusky6984135
Darke6884137
Knox6839122
Seneca6533137
Ashland6078115
Auglaize596888
Shelby5845104
Brown578272
Mercer565890
Crawford5591117
Defiance5579101
Madison552171
Highland550982
Fulton543583
Clinton535781
Logan520587
Preble5123111
Putnam4909107
Guernsey487664
Williams469982
Perry464454
Champaign454964
Ottawa443584
Jackson436663
Pike400745
Morrow398251
Coshocton393669
Fayette385053
Adams371575
Hardin367570
Gallia356658
Holmes3326111
Henry331869
Van Wert321471
Hocking312370
Wyandot286058
Carroll267052
Paulding247443
Meigs223042
Monroe193149
Noble174442
Morgan170329
Harrison161741
Vinton141919
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Angola
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 61°
Decatur
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Monday is another nice and breezy day with warmer temperatures.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events