CDC: Fully vaccinated need not wear masks; $500M for school nurses

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities large or small without wearing a mask or physical distancing," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
By: | May 13, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on May 13 that it is relaxing its guidelines for wearing masks for individuals who have been vaccinated.

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

Walensky said science shows fully vaccinated people are protected against COVID-19, so there is no need for them to wear masks, even in crowded locations with people who may be unvaccinated. She said the guidance only applies to individuals who have been vaccinated, and CDC will be working on updating guidance for schools and summer camps, as well as travel, based on the updated mask guidance. She said decisions will have to be made at the local level in determining whether to ease restrictions in communities.

Walensky said the change in guidance is the result of recent data that shows the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing contraction of COVID-19, effectiveness against the spread of COVID-19 variants in the U.S., and the drop in the number of cases over the past two weeks. She also cited the announcement that individuals 12 years of age and older are approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine as an important factor in the decision.

Walensky reiterated that unvaccinated people should still wear masks and participate in mitigation measures. “If you are not fully vaccinated, you are not fully protected.”

Public health funding

The CDC also announced on May 13 that a total of $7.4 billion in funding is available to buttress the nation’s public health systems, including at least $500 million to expand the number of school nurses across the nation.

“Today we are announcing the upcoming release of $7.4 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan to hire, train, and support public health workers across the country, reflective of the diversity in the communities in which they serve,” Walensky said. “This support will immediately add more staff in health departments across the country, [and] it will add school nurses to K-12 schools to support safe reopening and operations and support vaccinations as vaccines are authorized for younger people.”

Walensky said $4.4 billion will be used for expanding and supporting the public health workforce, including hiring school nurses, and the remaining $3 billion will be used to prepare to address future public health threats.

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.

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