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CDC: Mask Guidance Modified... For Most


Last updated 6/2/2021 at 10:41am

On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modified its mask-wearing requirements for most, mainly those who are fully vaccinated, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. The updated guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.

After the CDC updated their outdoor mask recommendations, Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement, “California has made incredible progress in controlling the spread of COVID-19, resulting in the lowest positivity rate in the country. And we have administered more than 28 million vaccine doses, including almost six million to those who live in our hardest-hit communities. After reviewing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s masking recommendations, and with science and data as our guide, we are moving to align California’s guidance with these common-sense updates. While more than half of Californians 16 and older are partially or fully vaccinated, many others are still not vaccinated, and the threat of variants remains. We need to remain vigilant and continue public health prevention measures – like wearing masks when appropriate and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

Governor Newsom also said in an interview that in almost all circumstances on June 15, “We’re not wearing face coverings. We’re not restricted in any way, shape or form from doing the old things that we used to do, save for huge, large-scale indoor convention events like that, where we use our common sense.”

In a response to whether there would be mask requirements following California’s June 15 reopening, Governor Newsom – citing the state’s high vaccination rate and low COVID-19 infection rate – confidently responded “no.” The primary exception would be for large indoor gatherings such as conventions. The governor’s office did not elaborate on these comments.

The state has required people to wear masks in public places since June 18 of last year.

The case rate of COVID-19 has been dropping and with the eligibility of the administration of the vaccine expanding, California is on the right path to normalcy. The state will soon remove most of its COVID-19 regulations on June 15, which includes capacity restrictions and physical distancing requirements, according to the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly.

Dr. Ghaly said that the state will largely align with the CDC’s guidelines on mask-wearing, and some travel restrictions may linger involving trips to countries heavily impacted by the virus. He said there will be no state-mandated or state-operated “vaccine passport” program, but some individual businesses or venues may choose to require such verifications for employees and customers. However, vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests will be required for people to attend large-scale indoor events with more than 5,000 people. Dr. Ghaly said the state will provide guidance to venue operators and other business owners about how to go about verifying vaccinations or negative tests, possibly including “self-attestation” by attendees.

During a hearing on May 19, the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky provided some clarity with the new relaxed mask guidance. She said decisions about the mask policy should depend on local circumstances.

“One of the things I think that’s really key in this is to recognize that we are not a homogeneous country, that there are some areas that – some counties that – still have less than 20% of people vaccinated,” Walensky said. “There’s some counties that still have greater than 100 per 100,000 cases in a seven-day period of time. And so I actually think as I look at the map of very heterogeneous map of how we’re doing with cases, how we’re doing with vaccinations. The decisions about whether to take off a mask mandate have to be made at the local level, have to be made at the community level.”

County Public Health Officials said they are waiting on further guidance from the state’s Department of Public Health to loosen the masks rules locally. The county will follow the state’s mask guidance, not the CDC’s.

According to the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks or more after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after your single-dose of the J&J vaccine.

As of May 17, fully vaccinated in San Diego County and California or unvaccinated, you must wear a mask:

Indoors in public places, unless eating or drinking

On public transportation

Indoor and outdoor crowded places such as:

Concerts, parades, sporting events, fairs, stores

Hospitals, nursing homes, doctors office


Masks not required, whether you are vaccinated or not in San Diego County:

Outdoors, in non-crowded settings where you can distance yourself from others

Getting a service that involves a mask coming off your face temporarily.

The CDPH said those fully vaccinated may not wear a mask if everyone is also fully vaccinated, too. If anyone present is unvaccinated and/or at high risk for severe COVID-19, the CDPH recommends masks should still be worn.