This story was updated May, 20, 2021.
May 18, 2021 -- It’s only been 5 days since the CDC made a long-awaited change to its mask guidance, and 23 states and Washington, DC, have already followed suit.
According to the new recommendations, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, regardless of gathering size. The CDC still advises travelers to wear masks while on airplanes, buses, or trains, and the guidance still calls for masks in some indoor settings, including hospitals, homeless shelters, and prisons. Those who are not vaccinated should still wear masks and physically distance, the CDC says.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said last week. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
As a result, states and territories including Michigan, Washington, DC, and New York have given vaccinated residents the OK to ditch their masks.
The changes come as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline. President Joe Biden said in remarks Monday that 60% of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot. COVID-related deaths are down by more than 80%, and the administration aims to have 70% of the U.S. at least partially vaccinated by July 4.
At a White House media briefing last week, the COVID-19 Response Team reported that since everyone 16 and over became eligible for vaccination, cases have dropped by 45%.
Walensky reported a 7-day average last Thursday of about 36,800 cases per day, a 23% decrease from the week-before average. During a media briefing today, Walensky said fewer than 18,000 new cases were reported Monday, the lowest number since June. The 7-day average of new hospital admissions was 3,500, down from 4,100 a week before.
Twenty-seven states never enacted masks rules. But, these are the states that did and now have adopted the CDC mask guidelines, although certain counties, towns, and businesses may still be enforcing their own rules:
- California: Its mask mandate lifts June 15.
- Colorado: The state is advising -- but not requiring -- unvaccinated people to continue wearing a mask indoors in a setting with more than 10 people.
- District of Columbia
- Illinois, although Chicago is maintaining its mask mandate for now.
- Indiana: Indianapolis mask mandate to end June 7.
- Kentucky: The state mask mandate and capacity restrictions will come to an end June 11.
- Maine: Effective May 24, 2021 Maine will align with U.S. CDC guidance.
- Massachusetts: As of May 29, Massachusetts will follow the CDC guidance.
- Michigan: Mandates for unvaccinated people will end July 1.
- Nebraska: Mask mandates ending in major cities.
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Ohio: The mandate will be lifted for unvaccinated residents June 2.
- Rhode Island
- Vermont: All restrictions are likely to end by July 4.
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin: Masks won't be required in state buildings beginning June 1.