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When will it be safe to take masks off indoors?

Vaccination rates key to looser CDC guidelines in public, experts say

Dr. Anthony Fauci said guidance on mask-wearing should loosen further as more people get inoculated against COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said guidance on mask-wearing should loosen further as more people get inoculated against COVID-19.

MIAMI – The CDC recently loosened outdoor mask usage for people who are vaccinated, but indoor guidelines remain whether you are vaccinated or not. Easing that guidance, public health experts say, hinges on how many of us get a shot.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said such recommendations could come soon.

“We do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated,” Fauci said on ABC.

Wearing masks indoors is still recommended by medical experts as the nation battles vaccine hesitancy. That percentage of the community vaccinated remains a key variable, explains Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease expert at Florida International University.

“What [Fauci] is talking about is, as we increase to a level of vaccination [that] it makes reasonable sense to take the mask off indoors, then the CDC is going to provide that advice in real-time,” Marty said.

According to Monday’s data, 52.2% of eligible Florida residents (ages 16+) have gotten at least one COVID-19 shot and 40% are fully vaccinated.

Miami-Dade County has reached 60.1% with at least one shot; Broward is at 55.9% and Monroe at 58.8%.

“If we know that 80% or more of us have good immunity then it’s reasonable that when you go into that restaurant most of the people will have immunity and the odds of somebody there being able to infect you or you infect someone else drop dramatically,” Marty said. “So herd immunity is tied to this concept of when we can reasonably take the masks off inside.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered that local governments not be allowed to force mask-wearing, but many private businesses have continued to follow the CDC guidance in requiring masks indoors.

Fauci said he expects being back to normal by this time next year. The White House has said its goal is to have 70% Americans with at least one shot by July 4.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."