Virus Experts Just Issued New COVID Warning
A federal judge has lifted the CDC mask mandate for public transit—and virus experts are concerned. "We're in a pandemic still," Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells Kate Bouldan on CNN's At This Hour. "We'd like to think that we're not, but, but we are." Here is what experts think will happen next. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
The CDC Is Fighting Back
The CDC is adamant that masks are still necessary to protect public health. "The Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disagree with the district court's decision and will appeal, subject to CDC's conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health," says spokesman Anthony Coley. "The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health. That is an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve."
Wearing a Mask Still Protects Yourself and Others
"You can still wear a mask. I mean, even if you're not required to, you still can still do it," says Dr. Gupta. "And If you're going to wear one, I think an KN95 or an N95 are the best masks in terms of protecting the user. Early on, you wore a mask to protect those around you. With these high filtration masks, you can better protect yourself… If you have an environment where there's a lot of virus still circulating, you're just increasing the odds that more people are going to get infected. You also have a situation where there are people, especially young children, who can't yet be vaccinated against this and maybe so young as to not really be able to wear a mask either. So that's also part of the reason that you have to be very careful in terms of the judgment about when to lift these mask mandates. The majority of people may be okay, protected through immunity, but there are vulnerable populations."
Those At Risk Should Continue Wearing Masks
Despite mask mandates being dropped, those who are at risk should continue to wear a mask for as long as necessary, experts advise. "Hopefully we have created some new norms around wearing masks for individuals who are sick or are vulnerable to any respiratory infection," says William Moss, Coronavirus Resource Center vaccinology lead and executive director of the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center.
What About Masks in Schools?
Schools across the U.S. are dropping their mask requirements, but virus experts are questioning the timing. "Why now? Why this moment? That's pure politics. It is just executive orders expiring," says Yale Medicine infectious diseases expert Jaimie Meyer, MD, MS. "But I also think people don't like mandates. They are tired of being told what to do. I think that really frustrates people."
Get Your Boosters
With mask rules being relaxed, it's more important than ever to make sure you're up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. "I believe every adult, once you're five months out from your second shot, absolutely needs to get a booster. That is completely necessary when you look at what's happened with omicron, particularly. A booster is essential," says White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. "The data that has emerged from Israel and elsewhere suggests that if you've gotten your booster and you're more than four months out from your booster and if you're in a high-risk group, over 60, they benefit."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.