New CDC guidelines expected on wearing masks outdoors; doctors advise carrying one at all times

NOW: New CDC guidelines expected on wearing masks outdoors; doctors advise carrying one at all times

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The President is expected to announce updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance related to wearing masks while outdoors on Tuesday, April 27. While the changes are not yet in place, Dr. Anthony Fauci hinted the guidelines would affect those who are fully vaccinated and even some who aren’t.

Doctors say while evidence show there is much less transmission of COVID-19 outdoors than when indoors, it’s a good idea to mask when you’re close to others and to be aware of local mask mandates.

“We may start to see some loosening of those masking requirements in people who are vaccinated even when closer than six feet outside, just because their risk is quite a bit lower,” said Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer at UW Health.

Dr. Jeff Pothof says because vaccines almost eliminate the potential for severe disease and decreases transmissibility, he believes the country is ready for new guidelines giving fully vaccinated people a little more freedom.

“When you have groups of people who you know are fully vaccinated, it’s getting more and more difficult for them to pose any risk to each other,” he adds. “It’s really the unvaccinated individuals.”

He says it does get tricky when you start mixing people who are vaccinated and not vaccinated during outdoor gatherings. Doctors advise just carrying a mask with you at all times.

“In case you get into a situation where you want to go inside someplace or there’s a gathering of people who may not be a part of your pod,” said Dr. Mary Beth Graham, infectious disease specialist at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. “Would it be a good idea to wear the mask to the farmer’s market? I’d say yes, because you have closer proximity with people, you’re talking with people as you’re looking at things.”

“A mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, whenever it looks like we’re going to be closer than six feet together, even outdoors, just slip that mask on,” Dr. Pothof says.

For a gathering of people who are all fully vaccinated, doctors say it’s a different story.

“When you’re having a gathering of your family members or whatever that you know have been vaccinated or may have had COVID-19 and you know they are recovered, etcetera, you can be with those people and not wear a mask,” adds. Dr. Mary Beth Graham.

Dr. Pothof says while it’s unlikely you’ll get COVID-19 if you’re six feet away from someone outside, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t.

“We do see a fair bit less transmission outdoors, it’s not to be confused with no transmission outdoors—it still happens, but it takes people in pretty close proximities,” he says.

Dr. Mary Beth Graham believes masking requirements will continue throughout the rest of this year, but does fully expect COVID-19 to become seasonal like the flu.

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