The New CDC Mask Guidelines May Have Unintended Consequences

Zachary Walston
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The law of unintended consequences is about to have a field day.

On May 13th, the CDC announced their new guidelines for wearing masks.

Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

The CDC is recommending fully vaccinated people still wear a mask in crowded, enclosed areas, such as a bus or place. In most cases, however, a vaccine is a ticket to a mask-free life.

At least that is how it is supposed to be.

Without an effective means of checking whether someone has been vaccinated - vaccine passports are highly unlikely - nothing is stopping people from lying about their vaccine status.

We are likely in for a rapid decline in mask use across the board. But don't throw away your masks yet, even if you are vaccinated.

As you can see in the announcement from the CDC, state and federal buildings, local businesses, and workplaces may still require face masks. The CDC's recommendation doesn't overrule requirements set by those entities.

Beyond the requirements, exercise caution. If you are meeting with someone who has a compromised immune system, a mask is still one of the best methods to protect them. It's not about whether you personally have decided the risk of contracting COVID-19 is worth taking, it's a matter of protecting others.

Keep in mind, the vaccine is not perfect. The CDC has confirmed over 6000 cases of fully vaccinated people contracting COVID-19. The lack of perfection does not mean a lack of efficacy. Those 6000 people account for 0.007% of the people who have received the vaccine. About 84 million people have not contracted COVID-19 since being vaccinated.

The CDC continues to update recommendations based on new studies and population data. Science constantly changes. The mark of good science is being will to make changes as new evidence comes to light.

Even still, the lack of perfection and the potential to still pass on COVID-19 is why precautions should remain in effect. On one hand, the new guidelines should be celebrated as they indicate the light at the end of the tunnel is growing. That tunnel will collapse if we act like the pandemic is over.

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I am a physical therapist, researcher, and educator whose mission is to challenge health misinformation. You will find articles about health, fitness, medical care, psychology, and professional development on my site. As the husband of a real estate agent, you will also find real estate and housing tips.

Atlanta, GA

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