‘Summer is coming’: Local doctors hope CDC guidelines hold up during warmer months

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The CDC is easing its mask requirements outside by allowing fully vaccinated Americans to ditch the mask and not cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers.

Local doctors say this should incentivize more Utahns to get vaccinated.

Dr. Todd Vento from Intermountain Healthcare says the more transparency and communication from the CDC, the better.

“So I think when you see the CDC put that out, it means they think the evidence is very good and they feel more confident in making these recommendations to a larger number of people,” says Vento.

As the weather gets warmer and more people spend time outside, they can ditch the mask if they are vaccinated.

For most of the past year, the CDC has advised Americans to wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of one another.

“We do have a lot of concern that summer is coming and there will be more movement,” says Vento. “When people move, they move their bacteria, they move their viruses, they move their infections.”

The last thing local doctors say they want is another wave of COVID-19 cases, so they advise Utahns to listen and follow CDC guidelines.

“I do kind of take what they say to heart because they are the brains behind the operation,” says Taylor Smith.

Smith, a Utahn, is taking the advice seriously, and so is Salt Lake City leadership.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s Ofice released this statement to ABC 4:

Our current outdoor requirement is intended for when a person can’t physically distance from someone who isn’t a part of their household, based on prior guidance. We won’t be adjusting the terms of the requirement at this time, but continue to urge people to follow CDC recommendations as they make decisions that impact their health and the health of those around them.”

“When in doubt, put the mask on and certainly social distance when you can because we are not out of it,” says Vento.

Vento says this is another way the CDC is incentivizing Americans to get their vaccine.

He adds that he hopes it works in Utah, since the state is behind compared to the others in its vaccination efforts.

Smith, who received her first Covid vaccine, says she got it to help Utah fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While masks are really effective, I feel like vaccines are really going to get us to the finish line,” says Smith. “I just really hope we do not trip before we get there.”

CDC director Rochelle Walensky says the decision was driven by rising vaccination numbers and a decline in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

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