CDC’s new mask guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals could affect vulnerable communities

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- New laxed mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is raising concerns among health experts that it may discourage some people from getting the vaccine and negatively impact vulnerable communities.

This week the CDC released new guidance for what fully vaccinated people can now safely do, including unmasking outdoors when you are exercising, alone, with members of your own household or attending a small gathering. However, health experts say easing mask requirements for vaccinated individuals shouldn’t encourage those who are not vaccinated to unmask as well. 

“Some people are going to see other people not masked and think to themselves it’s probably not that important that I wear my mask too,” said Dr. Jeff Pothoff, chief quality officer at UW Health. “Maybe they had good intentions, but they were wrong, and it could lead to a spread in cases.”

With a rise in vaccinations and a fall in COVID-19 case rates, Pothoff said the CDC’s decision to ease mask restrictions doesn’t mean the virus is going away. While it may imply things are improving, health professionals don’t want that to undermine the urgency for people, especially in vulnerable communities, to get the vaccine. 

“That could cause problems, but hopefully not to the point where we have to put on more restrictions in respect to those vaccinated or not, but that risk is out there,” said Pothoff.

This is one reason why many in the public health sector are pleading with people to get vaccinated.

Health officials hope loosening some mask guidelines will encourage those who are vaccine hesitant.

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