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CDC says it’s OK for vaccinated folks to go maskless

CDC says it’s OK for vaccinated folks to go maskless
By Bob Steenson,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its recommendations for COVID-19 mask precautions Thursday, saying that people who are fully vaccinated can stop wearing them in most situations.

In Iowa, the Department of Public Health urged families to get their children age 12 to 15 vaccinated, after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the safety of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children in that age group earlier this week.

Hy-Vee Inc. announced that all of its Hy-Vee pharmacies are now administering free COVID-19 vaccines for persons age 12 and older, using the Pfizer vaccine for those age 12 to 17.

“Minors must have parental or guardian consent in order to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” the Hy-Vee announcement said. “Hy-Vee asks that a parent or guardian accompany minors to both their first and second dose COVID-19 vaccinations. Individuals can walk in to receive the vaccine, or make an appointment in advance online.”

Persons age 16 and older had already been approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine. The other vaccines, Moderna and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson, are still only approved for persons age 18 and older.

COVID-19 vaccines are free for anyone living in the United States, under a federal program.

President Joe Biden, appearing in the Rose Garden Thursday with Vice President Kamala Harris and staff — all without masks — said, “Today is a great day for America.”

“If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask,” Biden said, summarizing the new guidance and encouraging more Americans to roll up their sleeves. “Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do.”

The CDC guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after receiving the single-dose vaccine.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Biden said the government was not going to force mask-wearing on those who are not vaccinated.

“We’re not going to go out and arrest people,” he said. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, wear your mask for your own protection and the protection of the people who also have not been vaccinated yet.”

In Floyd County, the number of people fully vaccinated continued to slowly climb.

As of Thursday, 5,522 county residents had received both doses of a two-dose vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the state COVID-19 database,

Using the latest census estimate of 12,076 persons age 18 and older living in the county, that puts the percentage of immunized adults at about 46%.

An additional 704 people have received the first dose of a two-dose vaccine.

The number of people who have died because of COVID-19 is listed as 42 in Floyd County, a number that has not changed since March.

On Thursday, the positivity rate — the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who tested positive — was 2.8% for the rolling previous 14-day average, and 3.1% for the rolling previous 7-day average, according to the satte website.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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