MILWAUKEE- In perhaps its largest step towards ‘normalcy’ since the COVID-19 pandemic began 13 months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is loosening its restrictions on mask wearing.
According to guidelines released this morning, the CDC says people who’ve been fully vaccinated against the virus no longer need to wear a mask while outdoors in the presence of known company, or in a sparsely populated place like a public park.
During a WTMJ roundtable discussion on the COVID-19 vaccine, Milwaukee County Emergency Management Medical Director Dr. Ben Weston says the new guidelines are not a surprise, but a step in the right direction never-the-less.
“I would say this is good progress, not necessarily surprising, but good guidance,” Dr. Weston said. “Rates of infection in outdoor environments, combined with being fully vaccinated, you’re just extremely unlikely to get COVID so it’s a natural fit and I think it’s good progress.”
The recommendations aren’t a free pass to go mask-less, however. The CDC released the following graphic to illustrate what it considers ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ activities.
“Honestly I think a lot of this comes down to common sense,” Dr. Weston said. “If I’m out walking my dog, or out for a walk in a park or out for a run, I don’t wear a mask… but if I’m out in a crowd or out in a farmers market, I’m still going to wear a mask.”
According to the State Department of Health, more than 42% of eligible people in the state of Wisconsin have gotten at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.
Dr. Weston tells WTMJ’s John Mercure that he’s optimistic when it comes to the country’s battle against the virus, but would not commit to no longer having to wear a mask by the end of the calendar year, “I think we’re making really good progress and I think we’re going to see that progress every month.”
You can find more WTMJ Roundtable: Vacs Facts 2.0 coverage here.