Pennsylvania Department of Health acting Secretary Alison Beam announced Thursday afternoon that the state’s mask order reflects the announcement made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier in the day.
The CDC Thursday provided guidance that fully vaccinated people can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing except where required by law, rule and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
On March 16, the department amended the state’s mask order by adding language directing to the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people allow for no face coverings. That means that Thursday's CDC guidelines automatically go into effect in Pennsylvania. Masking requirements will still be in place for unvaccinated people until 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
“Today’s guidance from the CDC affects only people who are fully vaccinated,” Beam said. “This is another incentive to get the vaccine that is now easily and conveniently available. Once 70% of Pennsylvanians over 18 are fully vaccinated, we can completely lift the masking order.”
The CDC guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
The CDC will no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, says, “We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
The more people get vaccinated, the faster infections will drop and the harder it will be for the coronavirus to mutate enough to escape vaccines, health experts say.
For more information on the CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.
The CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot. The country’s aggressive vaccination campaign has paid off: U.S. virus cases are at their lowest rate since September, deaths are at their lowest point since last April and the test positivity rate is at the lowest point since the pandemic began.