More than a year into the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear a mask or practice social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings.
“The science is clear: If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic,” the CDC's announcement said.
However, masks and social distancing are still recommended for everyone in some instances, including going to the doctor, hospitals and long-term care facilities. In addition, masks and distancing measures should continue on public transportation, air travel and when visiting prisons, jails and homeless shelters.
Minnesota is among the leaders nationally with its vaccination efforts. As of May 12, more than 2,229,000 Minnesotans have completed the vaccine series. That's 50.5% of the state's population. Some 60.9% of the state's 16-plus population has had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
The CDC noted that its recommendation does not supersede any state or local laws or regulations. Gov. Tim Walz said last week that he would remove Minnesota's indoor mask-wearing mandate either by July 1, or earlier if 70% of the state's age 16-plus population has received at least one dose.
Walz has said his office will issue an update on Thursday following the release of the CDC's guidance. Also, it's probable that some private businesses will still require masks be worn, and some cities and municipalities may keep their own mask mandates in place.
MPR data journalist David Montgomery estimates that at the current rate of vaccination, Minnesota will reach the 70% mark in late June, though the pace continues to slow.
As the New York Times points out, the ability to enter indoor spaces without a mask could result in hesitant Americans to get vaccinated.
Earlier this week the CDC advised that children ages 12-15 are safe to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Kids younger than 16 do not count towards Walz's goal of achieving 70% vaccination mark.