Local doctors and decision-makers met the new CDC guidelines that relax indoor mask restrictions for fully-vaccinated Americans with optimism, but some raised concern about the potential impacts on vulnerable populations.
RELATED: CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors
Dr. Jay Wolfson: Professor, USF Health: I think this is great news…It's something we really needed to hear. The CDC is very conservative, as you know, and they lag a little bit behind what the public opinion would like it to be able to do. They wait until they have dotted all their Is and crossed all their Ts and made sure they've got all the good science.
Don’t throw your mask away…Carry your mask with you where you go, because there are a lot of places that still require it.
Dr. Michael Teng, virologist with USF Health said the medical data does support today's decision, and that fully vaccinated people do not transmit the virus as much as those who are unvaccinated. However, he said he is worried because it’s not obvious who is vaccinated and who is not. He also said some groups, mainly children, could be at risk because of this announcement.
Kimberly Overman, Hillsborough County Commissioner: County administrators are evaluating that with staff to determine what our best means of protecting our citizens and the employees that work in the (county) building. At this point, nothing has changed, and masks are still required in the building…Unfortunately, we still have a large number of people that still have not yet been vaccinated. So, when you have no reasonable assurance that everyone in your circle when you're indoors is vaccinated, it's wise to continue using precautions.
Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Commissioner: The science isn't here to scare anybody. The science is here to move forward when it's time, and I think the CDC has recognized that today. And it's time. So, let's just hope everything works out. I do want to say if citizens are still nervous about not wearing a mask, it's a free country, they can still wear them and I encourage our others in our citizens not to shame anybody if they decide to.
Christian Ziegler, Sarasota County Commissioner: For me it's a little bit insane that there's still people out there that are kind of hunkered down, bunkered down in some of these states, waiting for the CDC to allow them to enjoy the freedoms that they're guaranteed, just by being born in America. So, I just don't see much change here in Sarasota County we're free, we're open for moving forward.
Mayor Rick Kriseman, City of St. Petersburg: I think it's a step that demonstrates we're making progress, but I also think, you know, and I hope it’s an incentive for people and they recognize, ‘look, the quickest way to safely put my mask away is to get a vaccination.’
Ryan Hughes, Pasco County spokesperson: We have always encouraged residents to follow guidance from the CDC. On April 5, 2021, Pasco County rescinded its executive order requiring face coverings in indoor public places. Pasco County continues to work closely with the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County to monitor COVID-19 in our community. As a reminder, vaccines are available for everyone who is eligible. Please visit the DOH Vaccine Locator webpage to find COVID-19 vaccination sites by county or city.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article named Ryan Hughes as a spokesperson for Polk County. He is a spokesperson for Pasco County.
What other people are reading right now:
- 'It's a personal decision': Families, pediatricians prep for COVID-19 vaccinations for kids 12-15
- Florida inmates are making robocalls – and the state is cashing in on them
- Doctors recommend 'smell training' for COVID-19 related loss of taste, smell
- These are the can't-miss games for the Buccaneers 2021 season
- Everything you need to know to prepare for hurricane season
►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter