May 14, 2021

CDC Mask Guidance

“In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.” AP News

Both sides highlight the political implications of the new guidance:

“The political implications of today’s announcement were inescapable. The president needs the pandemic to end, but he also needs the public to see that his policies and leadership have helped make it end. So far, his success has been measured mostly in numbers—in the falling infection rate and in the hundreds of millions of vaccinations…

Liberating the people from their face coverings is a far more visible step—one that Americans will feel, physically as well as symbolically, in their daily lives. It will also ease one of the most polarizing issues of the pandemic. The harsh political reality is that people might be more willing to credit Biden for ending the mask mandates than they are for keeping them healthy.”
Russell Berman, The Atlantic

“What changed scientifically over the last two weeks? Nothing at all, but plenty changed politically. Congress and the media have pressed hard on the CDC’s assumptions that the vaccinated are still at risk in the pandemic, arguing — logically — that either the vaccines work or they don’t

“And voila! Suddenly the guidance has changed, and not just for outdoors — where the risk of transmission is beyond microscopic even for the unvaccinated — but now for indoors as well, with exceptions for high-density situations. This new guidance has nothing to do with changing scientific data, but is the result of political pressure being brought to bear on the CDC and White House to quit undermining vaccinations by pretending they don’t matter.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Both sides also urge tolerance for those who continue wearing masks despite the new guidance:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday in new guidance that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outside or in most indoor settings. What it didn't say, however, is you shouldn’t wear a mask or you can’t wear a mask or you're entitled to mouth off about other people’s masks. Hundreds of corpses of people who died of COVID-19 in New York City are still lying in refrigerated trucks – and the few Americans who may appear overly cautious are being mocked…

Some people may go on wearing masks forever. They may be immunocompromised, anxious, or simply respectful of the horrors of the last 14 months that have scarred tens of millions, especially frontline workers, with PTSD. They may want to avoid allergies or the flu. Or they may just be smart, like the people who ignored CDC advice and started wearing a mask in early 2020. Whatever they are thinking, leave them alone.”
Jason Sattler, USA Today

“It’s a (mostly) free country and if you want to keep on wearing a face mask because you think it could help you avoid catching a disease, go for it. The data supporting such an assumption, particularly in the case of cloth face masks is dubious at best, but I’m not about to make your fashion choices for you. I have no intention of accepting this as ‘the new normal’ but you’ll all have to decide such things for yourself…

“There is [a] legal element to this question that hasn’t been dealt with yet. 18 states and Washington DC all have laws on the books that prohibit wearing any sort of face-covering in certain places or under specific circumstances. Since the pandemic hit, all of them have conveniently ‘forgotten’ about these laws rather than throwing everyone who leaves their home in jail… If I had to guess, the modification of these laws will be the choice for most states. If people are choosing to wear a mask for health reasons and not going around knocking over liquor stores, it’s harmless enough.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“Over the past few months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was criticized for playing it too cautiously with its Covid-19 guidance. The agency had recommended people wear masks outdoors, even kids in the outdoor heat of summer camp. It has overestimated the risk of outdoor spread and surface transmission…

“Experts argued that the CDC was failing to seize on a moment of victory: Vaccines are triumphing over the virus. The US needs more people to get the shots — and needs to encourage them to do so with the promise of a light at the end of the tunnel… With [this] news, the CDC snapped out of its cautious ways, moving faster than widely expected, given that the majority of Americans still aren’t fully vaccinated. And it finally embraced the power of the Covid-19 vaccines.”
German Lopez, Vox

Many, however, ask, “How do you know whether people have been fully vaccinated? It’s not as if you can tell from looking at them. We might have had cool apps to tell us, but efforts to create vaccination certification programs got so bogged down in nasty partisan politics that some states have gone so far as to ban them. What you can be sure of is that the odds are good that most of the strangers passing through a public place, masked or not, are not fully vaccinated. Only about one-third of the population has been…

“CDC officials no doubt intended to lift the spirits of pandemic-weary Americans as well as give vaccination foot-draggers incentive to get their shots… But this well-intentioned announcement is likely to confuse people and lead to more resistance to mask wearing among unvaccinated people, as well as put pressure on state and local health officials to drop mask mandates earlier than is wise.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

“I supported the initial lockdowns, hoping they would buy us time to find other ways to keep the virus at bay. I then continued to support lighter, more-targeted restrictions later in the pandemic. But now that vaccines are widely available, it’s time to start ending all of that

“We should not be imposing restrictions on Americans to protect those who’ve chosen to put themselves at risk — and who, disproportionately, oppose the restrictions just as much as they distrust the vaccines anyway. We also should not impose restrictions in deference to the folks who have managed to become addicted to the thrill of being stricter than everyone else about COVID protocols, even long after they’ve been vaccinated.”
Robert Verbruggen, National Review

“In the United States, the emergency is over… We can say that without diminishing in any way the lethality of the past year, and without having to debate the value of the interventions and sacrifices of the last 14 months. This was a crisis. It was a plague. Now, in the U.S., it’s just a virus…

“Eradicating the coronavirus can't be the goal. We didn’t eradicate the flu after the flu pandemic of 1919. Even polio still exists. Smallpox may be the only human disease we’ve ever stamped out. COVID isn’t gone, but infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are way down from the January peak… [COVID deaths are now] fewer than half as many as die daily from either heart disease or cancer…

“Driving, swimming, hiking, drinking, eating, making love, raising children — all of these things are risky. Living is a risk. For the past 14 months, we’ve been asked and ordered to give up a lot of living in order to save lives. It’s time to start living again.”
Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.