Federal health officials said Monday, millions of Americans now vaccinated against the coronavirus, they could resume some long-denied freedoms, like gathering in small groups at home without masks or social distancing for a hopeful glimpse into the next phase of the game Grant pandemic.
The recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came almost exactly a year after the virus began to strangle the country and Americans were warned about gatherings for fear of spreading the new pathogen.
Now the agency has good news for long separated families and individuals struggling with pandemic isolation: Vaccinated grandparents can, under certain circumstances, visit adult children and grandchildren again, even if they are not vaccinated. Vaccinated adults can begin planning mask-free dinners with vaccinated friends.
As cases and deaths decline across the country, some state officials are rushing to reopen businesses and schools. Texas and Mississippi governors have repealed statewide mask mandates. Federal health officials have repeatedly warned against easing restrictions too quickly, fearing the measures could set the stage for a fourth surge in infections and deaths.
The new recommendations are designed to put Americans on a more cautious path with clear boundaries for safe behavior, while recognizing that most of the country remains vulnerable and many scientific questions remain unanswered.
“As more Americans get vaccinated, there is increasing evidence that there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can be reintroduced with little risk to themselves,” said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the CDC, at a White house news conference on Monday.
On Thursday, President Biden will make his first prime-time televised address, mentioning the first anniversary of the pandemic outbreak and “highlighting the role Americans will play” in “getting the country back to normal,” Jen Psaki, who White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday.
By Monday, 60 million Americans had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 31.5 million Individuals who, according to a database maintained by the New York Times, were fully vaccinated with either the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The providers administer an average of about 2.17 million doses per day.
Mr Biden has promised that there will be enough doses for every American adult by the end of May. CDC officials on Monday encouraged people to get the first vaccine available, stressing that the vaccines are highly effective against “serious Covid-19 disease, hospitalization and death”.
Despite the rapidly accelerating pace of vaccination, the pandemic won’t recede overnight, said experts, who praised the detail and scientific basis of the CDC’s recommendations.
“This is not a turn on and off,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, Vice President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “It’s more like turning a faucet – you slowly start turning the faucet off.”
Even so, “it’s welcome news,” he added. “It’s the first time they say you can do something instead of saying everything you can’t. It’s huge. “
The new guidelines provide much-needed advice to those who are unwilling to resume face-to-face interactions even after vaccination, said Vaile Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation for the American Psychological Association.
About half of all adults are concerned about going back to normal life, including 44 percent of those who have been fully vaccinated, said Dr. Wright, citing shortly published research by the American Psychological Association. “What drives this discomfort is the uncertainty,” she said.
March 8, 2021, 9:50 p.m. ET
“It’s really hard to know what is safe and what is not. If we can give people science-based information – “Here’s what you can do, but we still recommend it” – people will get what they need to make informed decisions about the safety of themselves and their families to meet. “
In the new guidelines, federal health officials indicated that fully vaccinated Americans can gather in small groups with other fully vaccinated individuals in private homes, with no masks or distancing.
You can gather with unvaccinated individuals in a private household without a mask or distancing, as long as the unvaccinated individuals occupy a single household and all members have a low risk of developing serious illness if they contract the virus.
For example, vaccinated grandparents can visit unvaccinated healthy adult children and healthy grandchildren without masks or physical distance.
When asked if vaccinated family members should kiss and hug children and grandchildren who are not vaccinated, Dr. del Rio yes, but advised caution: “I would not overdo it.”
In public areas and in places such as restaurants or gyms, vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, maintain social distance, and take other precautions, such as B. Avoid poorly ventilated rooms, cover coughs and sneezes, and wash their hands frequently, CDC officials said.
The CDC’s advice is for Americans who are fully vaccinated, that is, those for whom at least two weeks have passed since they received the second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine .
What you need to know about the vaccine rollout
What is safe for newly vaccinated Americans and their unvaccinated neighbors and family members has been largely uncertain as scientists do not yet understand whether and how often vaccinated people can still transmit the virus. If possible, masking and other precautions are still needed in certain environments to contain the virus, the researchers said.
The CDC said Monday that research showed that people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to have asymptomatic infections and “may be less likely to spread the virus that causes Covid-19 to other people”. However, the agency didn’t rule out the possibility that they could accidentally transmit the virus.
There is also uncertainty about how well vaccines protect against new variants of the virus that are more transmissible and potentially more virulent, as well as how long the vaccine protection lasts. Some of the variants carry mutations that seem to dull the body’s immune response.
The CDC noted that vaccinated Americans do not need to be quarantined or tested if exposed to the virus unless they develop symptoms of infection. If they do, isolate themselves, get tested if possible, and speak to their doctors.
Vaccinated Americans should not congregate with unvaccinated people from more than one household and should continue to avoid large and medium-sized gatherings. (The agency did not specify what size a large or medium congregation would be.)
The guidelines differ slightly for fully vaccinated group home residents and incarcerated individuals who, due to the higher risk of transmission in such environments, should continue to be quarantined and tested for 14 days if exposed to the virus.
Vaccinated workers in high density environments such as meat packing plants do not need to be quarantined after exposure to the coronavirus, but testing is still recommended.
The CDC has not revised its travel advice and has continued to advise that all Americans stay home unless necessary. Dr. Walensky noted that the virus cases had increased every time the trip increased.
“We’re really trying to limit travel,” she said. “And we hope our next guidelines will have more science on what vaccinated people can do, maybe travel among them.”
The new guidelines clearly outline the rewards of vaccination and are likely to motivate even more Americans to seek vaccinations and curb persistent vaccine hesitation, said Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, Assistant Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“You can resume an activity that many people long for – being around the people they love, in small gatherings where you can see each other smile and hug each other,” said Dr. Grapes.
“It has been well researched that anticipation is an integral part of joy,” she added. “These guidelines will help any person receiving a vaccine anticipate future joy. As a doctor and a vaccine, I’m excited. “
Noah Weiland contributed to the reporting.