CAPE CORAL, Fla. — It’s been described as a major milestone.
The CDC has announced that fully vaccinated Americans can breath easily again and take their masks off indoors. There are, however, some areas where mask usage will still be encouraged. The announcement comes after mounting evidence that those who are fully vaccinated are highly unlikely to spread the virus- indoors or in large gatherings. Meaning they can take their masks off and stop social distancing.
“We have all been waiting for this day for a long time," says Dr. Jayanta Gupta, Director of the Public Health Program at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Only weeks after it was announced Americans could walk outside without a mask, now, the same can be said for those who are fully vaccinated indoors. According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series- like Pfizer or Moderna. Or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine- like Johnson & Johnson. It’s a move that, as the evidence points to, is one in the right direction.
“There are cases where fully vaccinated people have not been infected with the virus, but the chances of them having a symptomatic infection is pretty low. For them to transmit it to others is also really low," said Dr. Gupta.
The news even has some local businesses excited.
“We can’t wait. It’s been going a long time, you know?” says Marlies Laaper.
Laaper is the owner of Cafe You, an Australian inspired coffee shop in Cape Coral. Currently, staff wear a mask all the time around the shop while customers are encouraged to wear them while walking around the building. It’s a policy that Laaper says will remain for the time being.
“Even though we can go mask-less, according to the recommendations, whether we actually do I think we just have to think about it for a bit because for us it’s really important that our customers feel comfortable," said Laaper.
Right now, there aren’t any plans for people to show they’ve been fully vaccinated. That will have to operate on the honor system.
“I’m not that worried because the amount of time they spend to get from the door to their seat is very limited," Laaper says. "The CDC also say that you have to be face-to-face with somebody for about ten minutes before it can become a problem if you’re mask-less. I don’t think we do that to be ultra careful so no, I’m not concerned about that.”
Health experts, like Dr. Gupta, are still hoping the country reaches herd immunity.
“That will only be attainable when about 82 to 85% of the population gets vaccinated," says Dr. Gupta. "Once we do get vaccinated, we do reach that point, the use of masks will become redundant automatically. Therefore, for the public health perspective and the health benefit of all, I’d encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Dr. Gupta says the benefits far outweigh the risks. However, if some would still like to wear a mask even if fully vaccinated, they are welcome to do so.
You can find more information about the current CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 online right here.