[WATCH] CDC Considers Revision of Outdoor Mask Guidelines

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appeared on the “TODAY” Thursday morning and announced that the agency is considering revising its mask guidance. Masks protect against coronavirus infection, but with more than 84 million adults in the United States fully vaccinated against Covid-19, there are growing questions about whether wearing masks outdoors is still needed.

“We’ll be looking at the outdoor masking question, but also in the context of the fact that we still have people who are dying of Covid-19,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Hillstone employees told no masks allowed
[Image Credit: porkcheckoff Safety protection for the face via photopin (license)]
Some health experts are increasingly calling for mask restrictions to be eased for outdoor activities, while several states where mask orders are still in effect are making moves to loosen restrictions for outdoors. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper hopes to lift restrictions, including an outdoor mask mandate, by June 1st. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a change to outdoor mask guidance by June. Connecticut will lift mask requirements for outside in mid-May, along with transitioning indoor mask rules from mandate to guidance.

Masks should still be used during large outdoor gatherings where people are close together for a prolonged period of time, such as public transportation or sports events in packed arenas. But passing someone on a street or going for a run without a mask is increasingly becoming a very low-risk situation.

A review paper published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that less than 10 percent of transmission occurs outdoors and the odds of spreading the virus indoors were 19 times higher. However, experts at Northwestern University argue keeping masks on when you’re outside — even after you’re vaccinated — is not only a “social courtesy,” but also helps “model the behavior” for children, who can’t yet get the shot.

According to current CDC guidance, “masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household.” Health experts hope the CDC will more clearly outline high-risk situations when masks are truly needed.

Watch Dr. Walensky’s appearance on the TODAY Show, below.

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