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COVID Impact: Experts Say Loosening Of Mask-Wearing Restrictions Indoors Will Depend On Handful Of Factors

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Vaccination against COVID-19 continues to go up and the Centers for Disease Control is loosening some of its outdoor mask-wearing guidelines.

Which has people asking, when can we stop wearing masks indoors?

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported Monday, experts say soon, but it depends on a couple of factors.


You don't have to look very hard these days to see that mask wearing outside is starting to become at least a little less common, and the CDC says that's ok as long as you're not in a crowd or face to face with someone because there's plenty of ventilation outdoors to disperse any aerosolized virus particles.

But what about indoors? That depends on a few factors, as former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said this past weekend on Face The Nation.

"In the states where prevalence is low, vaccination rates are high and we have good testing in place to identify infections. I think we can start lifting these restrictions indoors as well, on a broad basis," Gottlieb said.

But that's a lot of qualifiers, so Dr. Anthony Fauci is a little more cautious, adding other factors before we can drop masks indoors.

"You're going to want to have good ventilation. That could hold true for schools, that it could hold true for workplaces. The other thing, it also brings out the possibility that you're going to have to make sure that indoors, when you have unvaccinated people, that people wear a mask," Fauci said.


What Fauci said reinforces the need to get more people vaccinated, so indoor mask wearing becomes unnecessary, yet safe.

Meanwhile, there has been another big benefit to all the mask wearing.

"The flu season was almost nonexistent. Cases were down over 99%," said Dr. Jennifer Lighter of NYU Langone Health.

One note of caution: If there's a spike in COVID cases this winter because we're all back indoors or new variants start to spread, we could see mask-wearing restrictions be imposed again.

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