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CDC Chief Warns Where "Virus Could Strike"

“There are pockets of places that haven't been vaccinated, large communities.”
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

There is reason to be optimistic: COVID-19 cases are going down, people are getting vaccinated, and some states are reopening without surges. But not all is well everywhere. Oregon has to shut down indoor dining due to an increase of cases. Pockets of the country are not vaccinated yet—and may not be, given hesitance. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), appeared yesterday on Good Morning America and on Sirius XM Radio to discuss these issues, and warned that we're not out of the woods yet. Read on for 5 key points that can save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Had COVID and Not Known It.


Dr. Walensky Was Optimistic We're Turning a Corner But Warned the Virus Could "Strike"

Patient refuses to take vaccination.

Dr. Walensky was asked if she still had a feeling of "impending doom." "I have a feeling of cautious optimism now," she answered. "We were seeing cases go up. We were seeing people relaxing their measures and I was really worried that we were in for yet another surge. I will say we have plateaued cases. Cases are starting to come down. We think that this is related to increased vaccination, increased people, taking caution. And so I'm cautiously optimistic with that. We're turning the corner. One quick point though, and that is that we can't necessarily look at the entire country as a whole because we know this virus is an opportunist. And so what we really need to be careful—as if there are pockets of places that haven't been vaccinated, large communities, that is where the virus is going to strike. And so we really need to make sure that we have uniform coverage of vaccination across the country." Read on to see more about the new mask guidance.


Dr. Walensky Said Here's What You Need to Know About the Latest Mask Guidance

Woman removing face mask from her face outdoors.

The CDC issued new mask guidance this week, allowing folks to go mask free outside when with the people they shelter with, for example. "I think the most important thing: people want the vaccine to protect themselves from hospitalizations and deaths, but what people are really interested in, who haven't been touched by this disease, is to really get life back to normal. And then a lot of people's minds—that is to get rid of that mask. And so we're really excited to be able to say for, if you are vaccinated, we are able to say that it's safe to take off your mask when you're in outdoor settings." Keep reading to see where she says it's safe to go after your vaccination.


Dr. Walensky Said If You're Vaccinated, You Can Go to Houses of Worship or Exercise Class

A young couple in face masks praying in a church during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walensky also appeared on SiriusXM's Doctor Radio's "Doctor Radio Reports" with Dr. Marc Siegel, and added more color about the masks. Should getting to not wear one be an incentive to get vaccinated? "What I really want to be clear of is the reason to get vaccinated is because it prevents sickness, it prevents hospitalizations and it prevents deaths. So that actually should be incentive enough," said Dr. Walenski. "That's an incredible benefit of these vaccinations we're seeing over and over again that they work to do all of those things. What we've been able to do now is given those things and given that they also prevent infections, we are able to say that outdoors people who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask. And I think that that ability to shed the mask is actually so liberating for people that perhaps that'll be a motivation to get vaccinated as well. We are still recommending masking in indoor settings for vaccinated people. And part of that is really just because just 34% of the adult population right now is vaccinated. That's truly extraordinary in the time that we've had vaccines, but we still have more work to do in the scale-up. What we do know is if you're vaccinated and you're indoors wearing a mask, you're quite safe and you can get back to all of those activities that we had been worried about before, congregating in houses of worship and your ability to do an indoor exercise class. All of those vaccinated with masks are safe activities."


Dr. Walensky Said Grandparents Who are Vaccinated Can See Their Unvaccinated Children Indoors

Grandparents Relaxing On Sofa At Home With Granddaughters

Dr. Walensky said the initial guidance about masks said " that vaccinated grandparents can be with their unvaccinated children, as long as there's nobody who's severely immunosuppressed." She added that they can take the mask off. 

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Dr. Walensky Said More Updated Mask Advice May be to Come

Doctor disinfects skin of patient before vaccination

She said there might be a greater lessening of the mask restrictions to come. "As we have more data, as more people are getting vaccinated—as case counts coming down, we have increasing data on the efficacy of vaccination, not just in preventing severe disease, but in also preventing transmission. And we'll be looking to update those guidances again." So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek