CDC says vaccinated people can ditch the mask outdoors in many cases

Fly View Productions/iStock

(ATLANTA) — You can ditch the mask walking your dog or dining outside with friends if you are fully vaccinated from COVID-19. But keep it on for any outdoor crowded events like concerts, parades and sporting events.

Wearing a mask in public spaces indoors also remains a must.

That’s according to new guidance released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people considered fully immunized – a milestone achieved two weeks after a person’s final vaccine shot.

The new recommendations are a nod at research that’s confirmed the risk of transmission is considerably lower outdoors. The new guidelines could pave the way for states and local officials to relax mask mandates now that vaccination rates are climbing.

“I think it’s pretty common sense now that outdoor risk is really, really quite low,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

“I mean, if you are a vaccinated person, wearing a mask outdoors … obviously, the risk is minuscule,” he told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

The CDC is still calling for caution, however, because it’s not clear whether a vaccinated person can transmit the virus.

Studies show the vaccine is extraordinarily effective in preventing a person from getting seriously ill after becoming infected. But less is known about whether they could still carry the virus and infect others who aren’t vaccinated.

Less than a third of the country has been fully vaccinated, meaning much of the population remains at risk. And while rising vaccinations are credited for helping to blunt the impact of the pandemic — states are reporting a nearly 17 percent decline in the last week — the U.S. daily case average is still nearly 60,000.

Fauci has said previously that he would want to see that number drop below 10,000 a day before states consider pulling back on mitigation measures like mask mandates.

“In public spaces, the vaccination status of other people or whether they are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 is likely unknown. Therefore, fully vaccinated people should continue to follow guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a well-fitted mask, when indoors or in an outdoor setting or venue where masks are required,” according to the CDC.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.