Vaccinated? CDC, Pa. Health says it’s OK to take off mask in most situations

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Vector color chalk drawn illustration of medical mask on black chalkboard background.

With COVID-19 cases dropping nationally, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced Thursday afternoon that those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks, indoors or outdoors, or observe social distancing, although masks will be required on public transportation.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor or outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic” 

Pennsylvania is adapting its rules — vaccinated people do not have to wear masks, while those unvaccinated still do.

Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said late Thursday that the commonwealth’s revised mask order reflects the announcement made by the CDC earlier today — much as the Department of Health modified its order when CDC said vaccinated people could go maskless outside.

Today’s CDC guidelines automatically go into effect in Pennsylvania. The masking requirement will still be in place for unvaccinated individuals until 70 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated — either both shots of Moderna or Pfizer one the single shot of Johnson & Johnson, followed by two weeks.

“Today’s guidance from the CDC affects only people who are fully vaccinated” Acting Secretary Beam said. “This is another incentive to get the vaccine that is now easily and conveniently available. Once 70 percent of Pennsylvanians over 18 are fully vaccinated, we can completely lift the masking order.”

The CDC today provided guidance that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing except where required by law, rule, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

The new CDC guidelines still require masking for all forms of public transportation, including planes, trains and cruise ships. Additionally, any private business can still require masks within their establishments.

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