What the New CDC Mask Guidelines Mean for South Florida

By Ralph Curra
MAY 14, 2021

The Center for Disease Control  (CDC)  has updated its guidelines for vaccinated Americans.  In a sudden reversal from previous guidance, the CDC now asserts that fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities without wearing a mask, no matter the setting.  Fully vaccinated people, according to the CDC, have either received both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and have waited at least two weeks.  President Biden summed up the new guidance in a tweet, saying “The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.  The choice is yours.”

The new CDC recommendations come as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently suspended all local COVID-19 emergency orders, including mask mandates.  The suspension bars local officials from enforcing mask mandates, although private businesses can still require them.  While some businesses in Broward County have made masks optional, others have chosen to continue to require customers and employees to mask up.  Recently Walmart, Trader Joes, Costco, Publix, and CVS, announced that they will no longer require vaccinated patrons to mask up in their stores, but they will not ask for proof of vaccination.

Governor DeSantis’ orders combined with the new CDC guidelines has led local school districts to review their policies for masking students.  Palm Beach County, for example, has announced that masks will be optional when students return to school in August.  Miami and Broward counties have indicated that mask requirements will continue for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year but have left the door open for these policies to be changed for the new school year.  The Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, urged school districts to make masks optional for the new school year.

Across the country, state and local governments have reacted in varying ways to the new guidance.  Connecticut, Colorado, and Vermont indicated that they would update their mask requirements shortly, while California, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey indicated that mask requirements will remain in place for the time being.  Los Angeles and San Francisco city officials decided to retain their mask mandates, although not ruling out the possibility that the mandates will be relaxed in the upcoming weeks.

As more of the country continues to get vaccinated, officials hope that the United States will continue on the path to normalcy; however, some challenges remain.  Recent polls indicate that up to 25% of adults will not seek out the COVID vaccine due to health concerns, religious objections, and many other factors.  Also, officials are concerned with the growing market for fake vaccine cards, which prove that a person has received their doses of the COVID vaccine.  As schools, businesses, and foreign countries announce that they will require vaccines for entry and the CDC recommends getting the vaccine in order to not wear a mask, officials worry that the market for these falsified documents will continue to grow, promising hefty fines and even jail time for those who create and sell fake cards.

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