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CDC mask guidance causes confusion

Published: May. 17, 2021 at 2:46 PM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT
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(CNN) – Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told millions of vaccinated Americans that they no longer needed to wear masks.

But the agency’s new guidance has some pointing to new issues in the push to return to post-COVID normalcy.

“I don’t mind the masks, but I definitely feel like it’s liberating to not wear them,” said Samantha Paxton. “It feels like a gift being vaccinated.”

Still, many who have been vaccinated say they’re remaining cautious and keeping them on whether inside or out.

“For me, they probably could have waited a little longer,” said one man. “I don’t think enough people are vaccinated right now.”

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky defended the changes despite the confusion, calling them a critical first step in reopening the country.

“We needed to sort of set this foundation based on the science to make sure people understood as they make their recommendations moving forward,” she said.

Moving forward, state and local governments will have to decide how to implement the CDC’s new guidance.

“The CDC came out with guidance and we are following that guidance,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “There is no way to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people from a legal requirement basis.”

For their part, many businesses have already changed their mask policies, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, Starbucks, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Target.

But make sure to check the rules before you leave your mask at home.

In New York City, 24-hour subway service returned Monday, but riders there will still need to wear a facial covering.

And the CDC still requires masks on planes and trains nationwide.

For travelers heading to Florida’s theme parks, masks are now optional in outdoor common areas at Walt Disney World near Orlando

But at Disneyland in California, masks must be worn unless eating or drinking.

There are disparities at Major League Baseball stadiums, too.

Facial coverings are only a suggestion at a Texas Rangers game. But for fans at Yankee Stadium, they’re a requirement.

Masks must be worn at NBA playoff games.

With just over 30% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he hopes the loosening of restrictions helps those numbers grow.

“The underlying reason for the CDC doing this was just based on the evolution of the science. But if, in fact, this serves as an incentive for people to get vaccinated, all the better,” the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. “I hope it does, actually.”

While the CDC’s guidance for vaccinated adults has changed, everything remains the same for children in schools.

The agency suggests asking students to wear masks and stay socially distant even as 12 to 15-year-olds can now obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.

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