How to sort through the confusion over CDC’s new mask guidance

The CDC is expected to release more clarification within the coming weeks

ROANOKE, Va. – The new roll-back on mask mandates from the CDC is creating confusion.

Thursday’s announcement says fully vaccinated Americans can mostly go ahead and stop wearing a mask inside and outside. However, there are different indoor requirements for those who are fully vaccinated on the federal, state and local levels.

“I feel like people haven’t seen my face in a year,” Charlie Lewis says.

[Gov. Ralph Northam lifting mask mandate for fully vaccinated Virginians, removing other measures in 2 weeks]

Ditching the mask is something many like Lewis have been looking forward to. But for Lewis, walking around Market Square in downtown Roanoke Monday without the thing we’ve all come to know felt off.

“It’s been so long since I haven’t had to wear it,” he says.

Lewis’s friend, Landon Carder, says he’s vaccinated and feels comfortable outside without a mask.

“Out of respect of people working and businesses though,” Carder says,” I’m still going to wear my mask inside.”

He’s not the only one with uncertainties.

“I’d say the confusion for me is walking into a store and not knowing whether I need one or not,” Rachel Jones says.

[In most places, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask says CDC]

The CDC’s recommendation is creating some confusion since it doesn’t lift local mask mandates, leaving it up to states and businesses to decide individually. Then there’s the question of how to track who has received the vaccine, forcing businesses to work on the honor system.

“That’s a huge hassle if every time I go into a store I have to pull out a card saying I have the vaccine,” Jones says. “At that point, I’d probably just wear the mask.”

Jones says she’ll keep the mask until she’s vaccinated, something health officials say is a good idea.

“The science is pretty clear that vaccinated are protected and can start resuming normal activities,” New River Valley Health Director Dr. Noelle Bissell says.

As of Friday, the CDC says about 120 million Americans are fully vaccinated. In Virginia, it’s about 32%. Health officials add cases and hospitalizations are trending in the right direction, but we have to stay patient.

“It’s a rapidly changing situation. Localities, universities, businesses--they’re trying to figure things out,” Dr. Bissell says. “Everyone is trying to be as safe as possible.”

Within the next couple of weeks, the CDC is expected to come out with more clarification on when masks are needed.

For a full list of which Virginia stores are still requiring masks and which aren’t, click here.

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