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CDC: Mask Mandate Base d on Science    07/28 06:17

   The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday 
defended the decision to ease mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated 
people, stressing that increasing political pressure had nothing to do with the 
abrupt shift in guidelines.

   (AP) -- The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday 
defended the decision to ease mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated 
people, stressing that increasing political pressure had nothing to do with the 
abrupt shift in guidelines.

   "I'm delivering the science as the science is delivered to the medical 
journals. And it evolved," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on FOX News 
Sunday. "I deliver it as soon as I can when we have that information available."

   Under the new guidelines released last week, fully vaccinated people -- 
those who are two weeks past their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine -- can quit 
wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings and give up social 
distancing.

   However, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people should continue wearing 
masks, the agency said. The guidance also still calls for masks in crowded 
indoor settings including buses, airplanes, hospitals, prisons and homeless 
shelters.

   The sudden change sparked praise from those eager to return to pre-pandemic 
life, particularly those who see the new guidelines as a way to reopen 
workplaces, schools and other venues that went dark during the pandemic.

   Yet concerns have been raised from those who say there's no easy way for 
businesses and others to determine who is fully vaccinated and who is not. 
Instead, many will have to rely on an honor system as many states and 
communities have already been lifting mask mandates amid improving virus 
numbers and as more Americans have been shedding face coverings after getting 
shots.

   "I would imagine within a period of just a couple of weeks, you're going to 
start to see significant clarification of some of the actually understandable 
and reasonable questions that people are asking," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face 
of the U.S. government's pandemic response, said on Face the Nation.

   The timing of the change has also faced questions. Just days earlier, 
Walensky had defended the agency's strict mask guidance in front of a Senate 
committee where some Republicans on the panel described the CDC's guidance as 
"unworkable."

   When pressed about the quick turnaround on the agency's stance on mask 
wearing, Walensky said the agency was not giving in to pressure but instead 
needed time to review evolving science.

   "I can tell you it certainly would have been easier if the science had 
evolved a week earlier and I didn't have to go to Congress making those 
statements. But I'm delivering the science as the science is delivered to the 
medical journals," she said.

   To date more than 156 million Americans, or more than 47% of the population, 
have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 121 million 
are fully vaccinated.

   Walensky cautioned that even with the new guidelines, it was still too early 
to "declare victory," but added that she was "cautiously optimistic" about the 
pandemic.

   "We have to remain humble. We've had way too many curveballs in this 
pandemic come to us. But I am really cautiously optimistic that we are in a 
good place right now, that cases continue to come down," she said.

   But, she added, even though the guidance has changed, "there's no need for 
everybody to start ripping off their masks."

   "There is no mandate to take it off. What we're saying is, now this is 
safe," she said. "Work at your own speed, work with your own family and your 
own businesses to remove them when necessary."

 
 
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