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World COVID-19 face mask guidelines eased for millions of vaccinated Americans

02:30  28 april  2021
02:30  28 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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The US is still recording tens of thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily, but the country's public health officials have announced a big "step back to the normalcy of before".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased its guidelines on wearing face masks for fully vaccinated Americans, saying people who have had complete doses of the jab can go mask-free outdoors unless they are in large crowds of strangers.

Previously, the guidance recommended that all Americans wore masks indoors and outdoors if within six feet, or about 1.8 metres, of other people.

More than half of all the adults in the US have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about a third are fully vaccinated.

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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the change in guidance was formulated by a combination of research on outdoor transmission risks, a decline in new COVID-19 cases and rising vaccination numbers in the US.

"Today, I hope, is a day when we can take another step back to the normalcy of before," Dr Walensky said.

"Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what you can’t do. Today, I am going to tell you some of the things you can do, if you are fully vaccinated."

More than 32 million COVID-19 infections have been recorded in the US since the start of the pandemic, with well over half a million lives lost.

It does however have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and while the total number of infections continues to climb there has been a noticeable decline in daily new cases over the last few months.

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Experts say new guidelines could encourage more vaccinations

University of Alabama infectious disease expert Mike Saag described the CDC's latest advice as "the return of freedom".

“It’s the return of us being able to do normal activities again," Dr Saag said.

"We’re not there yet, but we're on the exit ramp. And that’s a beautiful thing."

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's vice chair of preventive medicine, Mercedes Carnethon, said the extra freedoms "may serve as a motivator" for people to get vaccinated.

"The timing is right because we now have a fair amount of data about the scenarios where transmission occurs," Professor Carnethon said.

University of California physician-scientist Babak Javid also said he was "looking forward to a mask-free existence", and that the new guidance is sensible.

"In the vast majority of outdoor scenarios, transmission risk is low," Dr Javid said.

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Biden set to lay out next steps in pandemic recovery

US President Joe Biden agreed with experts that the change in advice from the CDC could encourage more people to take the vaccine.

He said on Tuesday that vaccines are increasingly helping America "get back to more normal living".

"The bottom line is clear: If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors," he said.

"So for those who haven’t gotten their vaccinations yet, especially if you’re younger or thinking you don’t need it, this is another great reason to go get vaccinated now."

This Friday will mark Mr Biden's 100th day as President of the United States, with all eyes on the dozens of commitments he made on what his priorities would be in that crucial first period of his presidency.

One of the highest profile promises was to deliver 100 million COVID vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office, a commitment that was later doubled to 200 million shots.

He announced last week that the US had hit that target a week ahead of schedule, in what he called "an incredible achievement for the nation."

Biden is set to give his first address to a joint session of Congress tomorrow, with more detail expected on the next phase of America's pandemic recovery.

ABC/wires

Post-vaccination Inertia Is Real .
Readjusting our ideas about what’s safe is going to take time.In a matter of weeks, social life as I know it will crack open. And a pretty big part of me is flat-out terrified of what lies within that widening maw.

usr: 3
This is interesting!