CDC Director Says New Mask Guidelines Require Honesty

New CDC mask guidance is causing some to question whether unvaccinated, unmasked people will cheat the system.

Video Transcript

ALEX ARGER: The US saw its first weekend after the CDC eased wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.

- Welcome to New Orleans.

[LAUGHTER]

- Straight from San Antonio, Texas.

- Woo!

ALEX ARGER: But the guidance also open the door to confusion since there is no surefire way for businesses to tell who's been vaccinated and who is not. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was pressed on Sunday.

- What is a business supposed to do when somebody walks in without a mask? Assume that they're abiding by the rules?

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: You know, we are asking people to be honest with themselves. If they are vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated, and they are not wearing a mask, they are not safe.

- Who is supposed to be the vaccination police? You look at Costco and Walmart, these essential workers, what are they supposed to do? They're, again, there's a quarter of the country that says they will not get vaccinated.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: We are asking people to take their health into their own hands, to get vaccinated. And if they don't, then they continue to be at risk. For the unvaccinated, our policy has not changed.

ALEX ARGER: Local and state governments can issue their own rules, but the CDC mask guidance says fully vaccinated people largely do not need to wear masks indoors or out. Some health experts are expecting most Americans, vaccinated or not, will be tossing away their masks. That puts unvaccinated people at risk of COVID. It's a cheating of the system that many are expecting, including this visitor to New Orleans.

ALEX BODELL: I think it's going to be largely just self compliance, and if people want to be dishonest about the situation, that's unfortunately their prerogative. And then if people want to be dishonest about the situation, it's not good, but I don't know if we can actually enforce rules to really do anything about that.

ALEX ARGER: Dr. Anthony Fauci is hoping the CDC guidance leads to more vaccinations.

ANTHONY FAUCI: When you get vaccinated, you not only protect your own health, that of the family, but also you contribute to the community health by preventing the spread of the virus throughout the community.

ALEX ARGER: For Newsy, I'm Alex Arger.