Vaccinated Americans don't need a mask most of the time, CDC says

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT) May 14, 2021
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7:28 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Businesses have to rely on "people being honest" about vaccinations following new mask guidance, Fauci says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas and Maggie Fox

It’s going to be hard to tell who is vaccinated and free to go into stores, schools and other sites without a mask – and so some organizations may keep mask mandates, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said early Thursday that fully vaccinated people should feel free to take off masks for most activities, even indoors and in crowds.

Asked how store owners and others will know whether their customers are safe without masks, Fauci said it will be difficult. 

“They will not be able to know. I mean, you're going to be depending on people being honest enough to say whether they were vaccinated or not and responsible enough to be wearing… a mask, not only for their own protection, but also for the protection of others,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“And by the way, even though we will not be… mandating vaccine passports from the federal level there are going to be instances … there are going to be institutions, clearly, that are going to be saying — and that could be airlines, we know certain colleges are also saying, if you're not vaccinated, you're not going to come on campus to classes in real time,” Fauci added.

“There are going to be some institutions that might be saying the same thing. So although the federal government wouldn't be mandating to have a passport, proving you're vaccinated, there may be organizations that will do that.”

In other circumstances, Fauci said, there’s little need to police behavior. “So the situation has changed, so there's no reason at all for storekeepers to have people who have accidentally walked in without a mask, I mean, there's no reason not to have that at all,” said Fauci, who is a senior adviser to the White House and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“People feel very put upon if you are essentially judging them on the basis of whether they have been vaccinated,” Fauci added. “I think there is going to be a pushback against questioning somebody when they walk in.”

The people at risk will be those who have not been immunized, he said. “If you drop the mask mandate then you may have an increase in infection among those that are not vaccinated.”

Watch more:

5:29 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Go There: CNN's Sanjay Gupta answers questions on new mask rules and Covid-19 vaccines for teens

The CDC has joined the FDA in recommending the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds, opening up nearly 17 million more Americans eligible to be vaccinated.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta answered your questions about the latest US vaccination news and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated mask guidance that mostly loosens mask restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

Watch:

7:05 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Mask guidance is a major step in the right direction but pandemic isn't over yet, Fauci says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

CNN
CNN

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet, but Thursday’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated people is a major step in the right direction, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, in most circumstances.

The US is now one step closer to a return to normal life, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper. 

“Being able to go around without a mask, indoors as well as outdoors, is really a big step in that direction,” he said. “I wouldn't want to declare victory prematurely, but I'm saying this is clearly a step in the direction that we want to go.”

Watch:

5:35 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Pelosi says mask rule is not changing on House floor

From CNN's Manu Raju 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi puts her mask back on after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 13.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi puts her mask back on after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 13. Susan Walsh/AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN she is not changing the rule requiring masks on the House floor following updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on masks and social distancing.

“No,” Pelosi said, then asked, “Are they all vaccinated?”

Some background: The CDC announced today people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances.

"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing. "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."

4:57 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Australia in talks with Moderna to produce Covid-19 vaccine domestically

From CNN’s Philip Wang in Atlanta

Minister for Health Greg Hunt delivers a COVID-19 update in the Blue Room at Parliament House on May 13 in Canberra, Australia.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt delivers a COVID-19 update in the Blue Room at Parliament House on May 13 in Canberra, Australia. Sam Mooy/Getty Images

The Australian government said it is in talks with Moderna to produce its Covid-19 vaccine domestically, Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Thursday.

In a statement, Hunt said that the government is in discussions with Moderna to establish a manufacturing facility in Australia using mRNA technology.

“Onshore manufacturing would ensure a secure, long-term supply of Moderna’s mRNA-based vaccines,” Hunt said.

This comes after Australia purchased 25 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, including 10 million doses to be delivered this year and 15 million doses of booster shots in 2022.

4:54 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Alabama governor calls new CDC mask guidance "common sense"

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called the latest guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on masks and social distancing “common sense.”

“Finally, we are seeing some encouraging, common sense guidance from the CDC. Alabama certainly welcomes this good news that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks or maintain social distancing inside or outside, regardless of size," Ivey said in a statement.

"We Alabamians have already embraced this idea, and I am glad the CDC has made it official. Aside from the COVID-19 vaccine being safe and effective, it is also allowing us to do the things we love and enjoy. Alabama is open for business. Alabama classrooms are open for students. Y’all, Alabamians are getting back to living. So, Alabama, roll up your sleeves and get the vaccine!” she continued.

Ivey dropped the mandatory mask mandate in the state in April. 

4:15 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Transportation mask mandate stays for now, TSA says

From CNN's Pete Muntean

The Biden administration’s transportation mask mandate will stay in place through Sept.13, Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tells CNN, despite new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on wearing masks indoors.

The move, some fear, could tee up more fights over mask rules on commercial flights. The Federal Aviation Administration has received more than 1,300 reports of unruly passengers on flights in the last three months, a significant uptick according to the agency. 

Earlier Thursday, the CDC director announced new guidance that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under special circumstances.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

4:56 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Biden: "Please protect yourself until you get to the finish line"

Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 13 in Washington, DC.
Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 13 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden praised the updated US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidelines for vaccinated people, but urged those who are not yet fully vaccinated to continue wearing their masks to protect themselves.

"Look, we've gotten this far. Please protect yourself until you get to the finish line because as great as this announcement is today, we don't want to let up," Biden said. "We all know how tough this virus has been. The safest thing for the country is for everyone to get vaccinated. And getting vaccinated is easier than ever."

The President also used a part of his remarks to make a clear distinction between what fully vaccinated people can do and what those who are no fully vaccinated cannot do with regards to mask-wearing.

"Now, I want to be clear about what the CDC is saying. And what the CDC is not saying. The CDC is saying that it's concluded that fully vaccinated people are at a very, very low risk of getting Covid-19," Biden said.

"Therefore, if you have been fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Let me repeat, if you are fully vaccinated you no longer need to wear a mask. But if you have not been vaccinated or if the you're getting a two-shot vaccine and you only had your first shot, but not your second, or you haven't waited the full two weeks after your second shot, you still need to wear a mask," he continued.

"Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. It's vaccinated or mask," the President said. "Get vaccinated." 

Biden thanked the American people, and once again expressed sympathy for those who lost loved ones to Covid-19, using his now familiar phrase: "A day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lives before it brings a tear to your eye." 

The President said he and the vice president were "pleased," but "we're not surprised." 

"Pleased but not surprised, because the simple truth is this: the American people have never, ever, ever, ever let their country down," he said. 

CNN's Nikki Carvajal contributed reporting to this post.

4:32 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Biden calls CDC's mask guidance a "great milestone"

President Biden praised the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated mask guidance that mostly loosens mask restrictions for fully vaccinated people, calling it a "great milestone."

"I think it's a great milestone, a great day. It's been made possible by the extraordinary success we have had in vaccinating so many Americans, so quickly," he said.

Biden went on to recognize the efforts of doctors, physicians and many more in the health care industry who have worked swiftly to vaccinate Americans.

"Over the past 114 days, our vaccination program has led the world and that's due to the incredible hard work of so many people," he said. "The scientists and researchers, the drug companies, the National Guard, the US Military, FEMA, the nation's governors, doctors, nurses, pharmacists. Everyone who has moved heaven and Earth to get as many shots into arms of as many Americans as possible. It's truly been an all hands on deck for the country effort."