US lifts indoor mask guidance for vaccinated people
The top U.S. health agency on May 13 said it was lifting mask-wearing guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a watershed moment that President Joe Biden called "a great day" in the long pandemic fight.
The announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) marked an abrupt turnaround after more than a year of urging people to cover their faces to stem the spread.
"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing.
"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic."
In an emotional address from the White House, Biden declared a major victory in the battle against the virus that has seen more than 580,000 Americans die.
"I think it's a great milestone, a great day," he said.
The move sparked joyful reactions in some, but others experienced whiplash and said they would continue to wear their masks out of caution.
"I'm still going to wear a mask inside," said Mubarak Dahir, a 57-year-old tourist in the capital Washington who was visiting from Florida. "I think it's premature, it's a little dangerous to believe that we are that far already."
But Desmond, a 67-year-old in Lafayette Square, said: "It's great news... we have come a long way in 14 months!"
Accumulating data shows the extremely high efficacy of authorized vaccines, not just to prevent symptomatic COVID-19 but also asymptomatic infection and onward transmission.
Almost 60 percent of U.S. adults now have one or more doses, while cases are falling fast, down to a seven-day-average of 38,000 or...