Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Social Distancing, CDC Says

Cassidy MorrisonMarch 9, 20215min
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People who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can gather without masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday in much-anticipated guidance.

“If you and a friend, or you and a family member are both vaccinated, you can have dinner together…without distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Monday. “You can visit your grandparents if you have been vaccinated and they have been too.”

Fully vaccinated people will still have to consider the risk to others who have not been vaccinated yet, the CDC said. The guidance asks people who have received the vaccine to limit visits with unvaccinated people to one other household.

The new guidelines have been anticipated for weeks and come only after a number of states have moved to roll back pandemic restrictions and emergency measures. Texas, Montana, and Mississippi, for example, have already lifted mask mandates.

The recommendations are highly conservative relative to public behavior. As the pace of immunizations has sped up in recent weeks to hit more than 2.1 million shots per day, people have increasingly resumed more normal activities.

“If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family, even if they have not been vaccinated, so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease,” said Walensky.

Members of the White House COVID-19 response team teased the new set of guidelines last week and stressed the importance of returning to a pre-pandemic normal gradually in order to avoid a fourth wave of the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said people who are “doubly vaccinated,” meaning they have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, could gather.

Fauci said on Sunday that the slowing decline in new case rates should not make people complacent. Historically, a plateau in falling case counts “at a very high level” of about 60,000 to 70,000 new cases per day has led to a surge.

“If you look at what happened in Europe a few weeks ago, they’re usually a couple of weeks ahead of us in these patterns, they were coming down, too. Then they plateaued, and over the last week or so, they’ve had about a 9% increase in cases,” Fauci said.

The risk of a fourth wave should not be ignored, Fauci said, as a highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus becomes more prevalent in the United States. The CDC warned in January that the variant, first identified in the United Kingdom last fall, would likely be the dominant strain circulating in the U.S. by March.

The guidance from the CDC is subject to change as new variants become more prevalent.

“We believe these new recommendations are an important first step to our in our efforts to reduce resume everyday activities in our communities,” Walensky said. “However, we remain in the midst of a serious pandemic, and still over 90% of our population is not fully vaccinated.”

Public health officials have been reluctant to recommend that people resume daily life activities out of fear that it would lead to a decrease in social distancing.

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security senior scholar Dr. Amesh Adalja predicted on Sunday that the guidance would be “cautious and conservative.”

“It’s going to take some time for public health guidance to catch up with real-world data,” Adalja said.

Scientists have not determined for sure that vaccinated people cannot be carriers of the virus. Still, studies in Israel of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which requires two shots to provide full immunity, showed that the vaccine reduces infection by 89.4% in asymptomatic cases and by 93.7% in symptomatic cases.

Author : Cassidy Morrison

Source : Washington Examiner : Fully vaccinated people can gather without social distancing, CDC says