Following the US CDC’s announcement of updated mask guidance on May 14, federal health officials have spent the past several days “defending” the updated guidance. Numerous accounts describe the new guidance that eliminated recommendations for mask use and physical distancing for fully vaccinated individuals in most situations as “surprising” or “startling.” Reportedly, the CDC did not brief state and local health officials on the changes prior to the announcement, which resulted in many being caught off guard by the new guidance. Numerous states and businesses removed or relaxed mask mandates in response to the change, some with little or no advance notice. The sudden change has caused confusion among the public, state and local health and elected officials, and schools and businesses, particularly regarding whether (and how) to maintain mandates for unvaccinated individuals while allowing vaccinated individuals to go mask less. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky emphasized that the risk of infection and transmission for vaccinated individuals is very low and that the changes stem from evolving data. She also encouraged “individual assessment of…risk” and stressed unvaccinated individuals should continue practicing physical distancing and mask use. White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that additional clarification on the new guidance likely would be published in the coming weeks.
CSSE is reporting 32,993,670 positive cases in the U.S. and 587,159 deaths. DOH reported 2,296,785 confirmed cases in Florida yesterday, with 36,227 deaths.