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Too Soon for Vaccinated Pasadenans to Drop Mask Wearing

Published on Thursday, May 13, 2021 | 3:03 pm

Although revised guidelines released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can largely stop wearing a mask in most indoor and outdoor situations, Pasadena has not yet adopted this policy and is working with state officials to determine potential changes to the standing mask order.

It was not immediately clear when and if California and local health officials would align with the new CDC guidance.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county will wait to complete a review of the CDC recommendation in order to “make sensible adjustments to the orders that are currently in place.”

The CDC’s guidance serves as advice, but state and local authorities can impose stricter requirements based on circumstances.

“This is a welcome statement on the CDC’s confidence in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, given the real-world data that shows strong protection for those who are fully vaccinated,” said Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Ying-Ying Goh. “We are working with the state to determine future changes to the mask order. Employers must still follow Cal-OSHA requirements, which are currently under review by the state.”

The new CDC guidance does not completely drop mask recommendations for vaccinated people. Face coverings are still recommended in some settings — such as aboard planes and buses or in crowded settings, such as hospitals.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Walensky also said people who are vaccinated but are “immune compromised” should talk to their doctor before giving up their mask.

“This is an exciting and powerful moment,” Walensky said of the announcement, while also urging more people to get vaccinated.

“The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people: you remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or of spreading the disease,” she said. “You should still wear a mask, and you should get vaccinated right away.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated this week that the state will likely ease its mask mandate on June 15, when all other COVID restrictions on businesses and gatherings are set to be eliminated. Newsom told Fox 11 News the state will continue to make recommendations for mask-wearing in select circumstances. But he said mask-wearing will likely only be required in large-scale indoor gatherings.

“Only in those settings that are indoor,” he told Fox 11. “Only in those massively large settings, where people — from around the world, not just around the country — are convening, and where people are mixing in real dense spaces.

“Otherwise, we’ll make guidance, recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions,” he said.

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