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Experts remain unsure about the CDC’s new COVID-19 guidelines

Did the CDC make the right decision with its guidelines?

Wearing masks could save at least 14,000 lives by the end of summer, a new model predicts.
Jack Carrasco, an employee at Stockist, is pictured in the Salt Lake City store on Sunday, April 11, 2021. Stockist owner Helen Wade chose to close the store for the remainder of the day after a person threatened to come back with a gun when asked to leave for not wearing a mask.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Experts remain uncertain about the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about face masks, wondering if the CDC acted too quickly and may have put more people at risk.

What did the CDC say?

The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated people will no longer need to wear face masks outdoors or indoors in most cases, as I explained for the Deseret News.

  • “If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing, per ABC News.
  • Of course, the CDC said that people should still wear face masks indoors in certain settings, including health care settings and public transportation, among other locations.

Do experts agree?

But CNN medical analyst Leana Wen said that the new CDC guidelines put some people at risk, especially those who are at risk for severe COVID-19 and those who can’t get vaccinated yet.

  • “They were overly cautious and now I think they are throwing caution to the wind,” Wen said of the CDC’s guidelines.

Similarly, CNN medical analyst Sanjay Gupta said this will reshape the way we see the country. Slowly, the country will shift to being a place where there are people who are infected and those who are not.

  • “We keep thinking of this country as a vaccinated and an unvaccinated country,” Gupta said. “What it’s slowly going to turn into is a vaccinated and an infected country.”

Is it too soon?

It might be. A majority of epidemiologists told The New York Times that they expected masks to be part of public life for the next year. Epidemiologists said people would need to wear masks until the end of 2021. That’s why the CDC guidelines came as a shock to many on Thursday.

  • “Unless the vaccination rates increase to 80 or 90% over the next few months, we should wear masks in large public indoor settings,” Vivian Towe, a program officer at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, told The New York Times.