The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated mask guidance "should not send the message that the pandemic is over," a group of infectious disease experts said Monday.
While applauding the guidance as "an important step, signifying our capability to eventually end the pandemic," the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) emphasized that the recommendations "make no change to mask-wearing guidance in health care settings, schools and public high-traffic areas including airports, as well as on airplanes, buses and other forms of public transportation."
It also noted that while the changes "reflect the remarkable protective benefit" of coronavirus vaccines, rates of virus transmission and vaccination efforts "vary widely across the country."
The group urged businesses, communities and local governments to base mask-wearing and physical distancing requirements on rates of virus transmission locally and vaccination data, and give consideration to those who are immunocompromised and others such as school children too young to be vaccinated.
"Less than half of the U.S. population is fully immunized," the IDSA said in a statement. "Increased vaccinations will be necessary to control and finally end the pandemic."
The statement went out on the same day New York and Massachusetts announced that the states would be adapting the CDC’s latest guidance for fully vaccinated people. California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Washington D.C. still have mask mandates in place.