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Vermonters react as CDC considers revising outdoor mask guidelines

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 11:56 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 5:10 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The CDC says it may revise its outdoor mask guidance now that millions of Americans are now vaccinated against the coronavirus. Some health experts are encouraging the move, saying face coverings may not be necessary outside anymore.

As the agency considers possibly easing the rules, some people who were out on Church Street in Burlington on Thursday support the potential move while others aren’t too sure about it.

“I think the problem with that would be you would have people getting too confident that they could stop wearing masks everywhere,” said Connor Meehan of Burlington.

“I think they should lift it, absolutely. It’s about time,” said Mike Moore of Underhill. “Yeah, we need practice. Our immune systems need practice.”

“I think I would also feel personally safe once I’m fully vaccinated but I worry about the people who choose not to get the vaccine or just haven’t had access to it yet,” said UVM student Aaron Kedzireski.

As of this week, the CDC says half of the total U.S. adult population, almost 130 million people, have gotten their first dose of the vaccine. Some people say they won’t feel comfortable not wearing a mask outside until that number is much higher. “I don’t think it would need to be 100%. Just a majority of our population, especially in Burlington, because we’re a little more close quarters here,” said Shannon Meyler of Burlington.

“I think I would need a number of like 98%, Something really high,” said UVM student Jack Thibault.

In the event that the CDC does loosen the guidelines for outdoor mask-wear, some people say they won’t give up their face covering altogether. “As long as I’m at least three to six feet away from somebody, yes, but when I’m close, I feel like I should have a mask on,” said Victoria Neary of Burlington.

“It kind of just depends on where I am. For example, if Church Street is really busy, I guess I’d like to have my mask on,” said Meara, who is visiting Burlington from Boston. “But if there is not a lot of people here, I guess I’d feel more comfortable because I have a lower risk of getting COVID.”

Governor Phil Scott’s office says the state mask mandate is projected to remain in place until early July but “the Governor and his team of public health experts will review any new recommendations and data” from the CDC.

WCAX News also reached out to the Vermont Health Department but they were unavailable for comment.

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