Ed teased the news in his post earlier and now here it is. If I hadn’t stopped listening to the CDC like two months ago, this would be a big moment. Watch, then read on.
.@CDCDirector: "Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor or outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic." pic.twitter.com/LEYgPIlwyt
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 13, 2021
Remember that complicated color-coded chart the agency released 16 days ago, to widespread derision? It’s much simpler now. If you’re vaccinated, all the stoplights are green. Take off the mask and let ‘er rip.
There’s no scientific reason why this guidance couldn’t have been given 16 days ago or sooner. They’re changing the recommendations now transparently for political reasons, as Ed said, probably because even their peers in the expert class have grown exasperated with them. They’re caught in a cycle of being too cautious and then transparently bowing to political pressure to ease up, which makes them unreliable either way. I’d advise people to stop listening to them at this point except that most people already have.
To the extent there’s a “good” political reason for today’s move, though, this is it:
Here's the risk assessment the CDC has made with its new mask policy:
They're betting–possibly correctly–that "vaccine=no more mask" will be enticing enough to "undecideds" that it'll increase rates of vaccination more than any possible increase in vaccine-breakthrough spread.
— Jeremy Faust MD MS (ER physician) (@jeremyfaust) May 13, 2021
Or, if you’d rather hear it from a government authority, here’s the newly chillaxed Tony Fauci:
“We’ve got to liberalize the restrictions so people can feel like they’re getting back to some normalcy,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s senior adviser on the pandemic, said in an interview. “Pulling back restrictions on indoor masks is an important step in the right direction.”
“You can’t inhibit people from doing the things they want to do, which is one of the reasons they wanted to get vaccinated in the first place, because other people are not getting vaccinated,” he added.
I posted this poll result in an earlier thread but it’s worth looking at again:
We’ve reached the point in the national vaccination effort where all of the “eagers” have already gotten their shots or made their appointments. Now officials are stuck dangling carrots in front of holdouts to try to lure them off the fence. In Ohio they’re dangling money; as of today, the CDC is dangling the prospect of full normalcy. Good incentives.
“Wow,” tweeted Dr. Leana Wen in response to the news. “This does speak to the power of vaccines, but how can we be sure those around us are vaccinated? Not sure we all trust an honor code.” She’s the expert and I’m just a layman but I thought the whole point of today’s announcement was to shift the behavioral default from accommodating the unvaccinated to accommodating the vaccinated. For 14 months we’ve masked up, distanced from others, and allowed capacity limits on businesses in the interest of protecting vulnerable people from being infected by strangers. The significance of today’s announcement is that, from this point on, the vulnerable are responsible for protecting themselves. Every adult has had a chance to be immunized by now. If you’ve refused, that’s your right. But you’re choosing to be vulnerable. We’re going back to normal with or without you.
All of which is a fancy way of saying that it doesn’t matter if the people around you in a public space are vaccinated or not. If you’re vaccinated, it’s irrelevant. You’ll be fine. If you’re *not* vaccinated, you shouldn’t be there. And if you choose to be there anyway, don’t complain later if you end up in the hospital. You knew what you were getting into. From now on, per Walensky’s announcement, we’re letting the unvaccinated manage their own risk. Best of luck.