By: John Shumway
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The new mask guidelines are a relief for the vaccinated and unvaccinated and they also create a division between those who've had the shot and those who have not.
Under the CDC guidance, which Pennsylvania has adopted, the vaccinated do not need to wear a mask outdoors unless they are in a large crowd of strangers, like at a baseball game – the Pirates still require masks.
The unvaccinated also can dump the mask outside, and go maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people.
However the unvaccinated are still supposed to wear masks in gatherings with other unvaccinated people and at outdoor restaurants. Indoor mask requirements don't change.
Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Amesh Adalja says those who are fully vaccinated should get a break.
"The virus is not going to be able to cause serious hospitalization or death to them, the virus is unlikely to be spread from them," he explained. "So I do think that when you're talking about vaccinated people, they really are free of the risk, for the most part of being a threat to others. The data is overwhelming that shows that not only do these vaccines prevent symptomatic and serious disease, they also prevent you from being able to spread it."
Dr. Adalja concedes his confidence is outpacing the CDC.
"In general, a vaccinated person can go back to as much of their normal life as their risk tolerance permits, it's going to take some time for public health guidance to reflect that it's going to lag because the CDC is taking baby steps and cautious," he said.
Dr. Adalja points out the more people who are vaccinated the more restrictions will be removed.
He foresees major controversy ahead if schools require COVID Vaccines this fall as some universities have already announced.
"I do think that this is something that all schools should consider," he recommended. "Just like they just like they require students to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B or chickenpox or measles."
The main battle right now he says, "I think really, now we have to do a lot of work trying to be proactive, trying to address people's concerns that they might have about these vaccines and show them how this vaccine is going to improve their lives. And it clearly does."
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