SCIENCE NEWS – The most recent federal guidance on wearing masks offered a glimmer of hope that the pandemic’s end was inching closer, but it has also caused confusion, anger and worry.
On May 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated individuals no longer had to wear masks indoors, except in hospitals, on public transit and in other specified places.
In that directive, there was incentive for people who hadn’t yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to go get their shots, but the guidance also left even experts wondering what it meant for individuals and society as a whole.
Jeffrey Duchin, a public health expert with Public Health – Seattle & King County, told reporters in an Infectious Diseases Society of America news briefing on May 20:
“Some unfortunately interpreted this guidance as an immediate end to the indoor mask mandates or that the COVID-19 epidemic is essentially over.”
That is not the case. The United States is still recording more than 24,000 cases and about 500 deaths each day from COVID-19.
That’s the lowest level in the last 10 months, Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert who heads the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minn., said May 18 in a podcast. But only 38 percent of the total population was fully vaccinated by May 20, according to the CDC.
The recommendation that vaccinated people could forgo masks caught experts off guard, Poland said:
“We are only just now getting to a reduced level over the last two weeks of cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
“By the way, we were at this same level almost one year ago and look at what happened in the intervening year.”
With the current levels of vaccination, “this feels a month or two premature in my mind,” he said … Click here to read more.