- The CDC plans to release new guidelines this week for Americans who have been fully vaccinated.
- The recommendations suggest that vaccinated people can host small, at-home gatherings with other fully vaccinated people, two senior White House officials told Politico.
- But even fully vaccinated people will still need to wear masks and social distance in public.
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to release guidelines this week detailing how Americans can safely alter their behavior once they’re fully vaccinated.
The recommendations are expected to advise that vaccinated people can host small, at-home gatherings with other fully vaccinated people, two senior White House officials involved in drafting the guidelines told Politico.
But even fully vaccinated people – those who have received two doses of either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccine, or one shot of Johnson & Johnson’s – will still be asked to wear masks and social distance in public, the officials said. The full guidelines could be released as early as Thursday, Politico reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hinted at the new rules during a White House press briefing on Monday.
“I use the example of a daughter coming in from out of town who is doubly vaccinated, and a husband and wife doubly vaccinated, and maybe a next-door neighbor who you know are doubly vaccinated,” Fauci said. “Small gatherings in the home of people, I think you can clearly feel that the risk – the relative risk – is so low that you would not have to wear a mask, that you could have a good social gathering within the home.”
But Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, cautioned at the same briefing that even vaccinated Americans would have to remain vigilant.
“While we may have guidance at the individual level, as Dr. Fauci has suggested, I think we all need to keep our eye on the fact that we’re not out of the woods here yet,” Walensky said.
Average daily coronavirus cases have fallen roughly 65% since the start of January, but cases appear to have plateaued at around 70,000 per day over the last week.
If Americans “suddenly decided that because cases are going down, they felt more comfortable eating inside at a restaurant or socializing outside their pods, we could potentially erase the reductions that have been made over the past few weeks,” Dr. Kate Langwig, an infectious-disease ecologist at Virginia Tech, told Insider in February.
For now, Walensky said, “the goal is not to sort of open up travel” just because vaccinations are scaling up. Instead, she said, the Biden administration has set its sights on making sure that “we are in a place to be out of this pandemic” within President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office – roughly by the end of April.
“At 70,000 cases per day, we’re not in that place right now,” Walensky said.
For that reason, experts still advise that fully vaccinated people limit their interactions with non-vaccinated people as much as possible.
“The setting in a home of a small group of people having dinner together, all of whom are vaccinated, is very different when you step out the door and go into a society that has 70,000 new infections per day,” Fauci said.