Pa. will follow CDC's mask guidance for fully vaccinated residents

The Pennsylvania Health Department says it will follow the CDC's new recommendation to ease mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

Video Transcript

BRIAN TAFF: News continues here with the latest on that big breaking news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today.

SARAH BLOOMQUIST: This afternoon officials announced fully vaccinated Americans can essentially return to life as normal without masks or social distancing in almost all cases.

BRIAN TAFF: That means that people two weeks out from their second Moderna or Pfizer's shot, or from their only Johnson & Johnson shot, do not have to wear a covering in a majority of indoor settings or in crowded places.

SARAH BLOOMQUIST: The CDC says after reviewing data from the last few weeks they determined it is very unlikely inoculated people would transmit the coronavirus or contract a severe case.

BRIAN TAFF: So again, no mask for the most part but of course there are a few exceptions to the new rules.

SARAH BLOOMQUIST: For more on where fully vaccinated people will still have to wear masks and more on today's big news, we turn to Action New's Gray Hall live for us now in studio, Gray?

GRAY HALL: Hi Sarah and Brian, certainly this is really exciting news. But it is not a green light for everyone. If you're not fully vaccinated the CDC saying you still need to wear a mask. Also when you're traveling, a mask will be recommended.

A major announcement from the CDC, the agency now says you do not have to wear a mask inside or outside or practice social distancing if you are fully vaccinated.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: If you are fully vaccinated you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment.

GRAY HALL: The new guidance will still call for masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, and hospitals. Local doctors are weighing in on the new CDC guidelines.

THOMAS FEKETE: From a scientific point of view it's very nice to see that people who thought a lot about this have come up with some lightening of the requirements for masking and for distancing, and that's encouraging.

GRAY HALL: Dr. Thomas Fekete is with Temple's Lewis Katz School of Medicine.

THOMAS FEKETE: Don't assume that we're done. I think we may be on the road to being done but maybe not done, done.

GRAY HALL: He says while there is reason to be excited, we should still use caution.

THOMAS FEKETE: I would tell people who are immunosuppressed significantly at high risk to be very cautious and to continue to wear the masks, even if they had the full vaccination course.

GRAY HALL: The CDC warns these new guidelines are only for those who have been vaccinated. If you are not, you should still mask up.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people. You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others.

GRAY HALL: Medical experts say this is a huge hurdle but say we still have some work to do with getting more people vaccinated.

THOMAS FEKETE: In this area we're about 50% vaccinated, which is good, it isn't great. I'd like to see us above 70%.

GRAY HALL: All right, certainly some big news today and moving forward there is some concern about how to tell who actually is vaccinated. Also you need to keep in mind these are only guidelines and recommendations, not a mandate. States and businesses have a choice in this matter, they can still require for folks to mask up, Sarah.