DemDaily: Unmasked

May 14, 2021

On his first day in office Biden issued a federal mask mandate and compliance with CDC Guidelines (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced yesterday that fully vaccinated Americans can unmask indoors and out, signaling the beginning of the end of the deadly pandemic that has devastated Americans and the world for over 14 months.

"We have all longed for this moment," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a White House news conference on Thursday. "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic."

The Center's guidance, however, came as a surprise to most state and local officials, many of whom met the announcement with cautious optimism, if not confusion.

The CDC guidance stated that "fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

Lifting the federal mask mandate does not supersede state laws that govern the healthcare guidelines in each state.

Masks have become an integral part of our daily lives and, to some, a symbol of the partisan divide that has played out in how red states and blue states have handled the pandemic.

Although many states led by Republicans have already lifted or eased masking rules, some governed by Democrats were cautious to embrace the new guidelines without further review and details.

Since yesterday's CDC maskless declaration, at least 12 states announced elimination of mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals, including Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.

By May 19th, the number of states without mask mandates is expected to be up to 38.

According to the CDC, 36.2% of the US population, approximately 120 million people, are fully vaccinated and 46.8%, or 155 million, have received at least one dose.

The Vaccination Count
The US is now administering an average of 1.82 million vaccine doses per day, down from a seven-day average of more than 3 million in early to mid-April.

"Based on the real-world effectiveness" of the vaccine, said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, this is "a step toward normality, to be able to function in a way that approximates the way things were before this terrible outbreak."

This week, the US rolled out the world's first mass inoculation effort for 12 to 15-year-olds. Vaccination of all children is expected by the end of this calendar year or the beginning of 2022.

The states with the highest vaccination rates, as measured by the number of doses administered per 100k residents, are Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maine, followed by DC.

As of this morning, COVID-19 numbers in the US now stand at 32,719,018 cases, including 582,3016 fatalities. The rate of new infections of COVID-19 have gone from 60,000 per day, on a seven-day average, to 30,000 per day.

The COVID Count
Worldwide, there have been 161,381,569 reported cases of COVID, including 3,348,952 deaths.

COVID Cases and Deaths per State (NBC/Click)

While globally the United States leads the vaccination race, it also still leads the COVID case count with nearly 33 million, followed by India with over 24 million, Brazil with 15.4 million, France with 5.9 million, Turkey with 5.1 million, Russia with 4.9 million, and the UK with 4.4 million.

While touting the success of the nation's coronavirus vaccine campaign, he also cautioned, "It's going to take a little more time for everyone who wants to get vaccinated to get their shots. So all of us, let's be patient with one another.

"The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. The choice is yours."

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Kimberly Scott

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