The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its public health guidance on Tuesday, finally conceding that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks while outdoors.
"There are many situations where fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, citing mounting evidence that the disease does not spread easily outdoors. "If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated or unvaccinated, the science shows, if you are vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked."
Her remarks prompted a few reporters to ask why anyone has to wear a mask outdoors if COVID-19 is not easily spread under such circumstances, and whether vaccinated people wearing masks indoors was more about sending the right message than actually keeping people safe. In both of those cases, Walensky urged people to stick to the restrictions until more of the population is vaccinated and case rates have declined further.
Federal health officials are still being too cautious, as is their custom. Yet it's an encouraging sign that the CDC has made this concession, since it means that the intellectual defenders of universal masking (such as Joy Reid and Keith Olbermann) are no longer following either the most up-to-date science or the official guidelines. They have no leg to stand on.
Indeed, Walensky explicitly said that government mask mandates should be changed to comply with the CDC's new position, which is that vaccinated people do not need masks outdoors. It's not much, but it's something.