The latest CDC guidelines on masks won’t change much in Utah

Apr 27, 2021, 7:45 PM
masks back on...
FILE -- Gov. Gary Herbert keeps a mask at the ready as he speaks during a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY – The CDC is updating their recommendations about when and where people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks.  However, local Utah health officials say these new CDC guidelines really won’t change much.

According to the new recommendations, people who have been fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks at small outdoor events. They can also dine with friends from multiple households indoors, and can generally participate in all outdoor activities like hiking and walking without covering their faces.

If that seems very similar to what health officials in Utah have already been recommending, it should. Representatives with the Utah Department of Health reported they were somewhat surprised at these new suggestions since they don’t deviate much from what many states already allow.

However, Dr. Brandon Webb with Intermountain Healthcare said not every state has adopted the same rules, and not every state is flattening the proverbial curve, either.

Webb said, “The CDC is giving guidance to the entire country and there are locations in the U.S. right now, Michigan being one of them, where transmission is out of control, still.”

Webb also said this new guidance shows there are benefits from getting the vaccine, and more people may be encouraged to get it to protect themselves from the virus and its variants.

“These variants continue to pose some risk of causing situation like we’re seeing in other states,” he said.

The last time the Utah Department of Health received guidance from the CDC about mask usage, UDOH modified it slightly to be more understandable and user-friendly. Spokesperson Jenny Johnson said they won’t be making any significant changes to their recommendations since they already match what the CDC is saying.

Johnson said, “We’re going to recommend that you wear a mask when you’re around a large group of people that you don’t know, don’t live with and you don’t know if they’ve been vaccinated.  That’s out of courtesy for those who maybe haven’t had that chance.”

She said only half of Utah’s eligible population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and even though the medications are very effective, the chances of a fully vaccinated person spreading the virus to other people are not zero.

“We don’t have a natural [vaccine] that’s 100 percent fail-proof every time,” Johnson said.

Data from UDOH shows mask use has started to decline since the statewide mandate expired, but Johnson said most people in Utah are still wearing one.

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The latest CDC guidelines on masks won’t change much in Utah